President Biden warned U.S. energy companies against using the impacts of Hurricane Ian to hike gas prices in remarks Wednesday morning.
“Do not use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American people,” Biden said at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. “The price of oil has stayed relatively low and kept going down; the price of gas should be going down as well.”
The president went on to cite projections from White House experts that the hurricane has only disrupted the production of about 190,000 barrels of oil per day, or under 2 percent of domestic daily production.
“This small, temporary storm impact on oil production provides no excuse for price increases at the pump,” he added, vowing to ask for an investigation of potential price gouging if gas prices do not reflect that.
Analysis by Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy Tuesday night indicated that about 20 percent of gas stations in Tampa, where the storm is projected to hit, are without fuel.
However, De Haan said average prices throughout the Sunshine State are holding steady, as the storm has not affected Gulf of Mexico refinery operations overall. Those operations are not in the storm’s forecasted path as of Wednesday morning. But, should the storm veer west, it could threaten refining operations off Louisiana and Texas.
While gas prices rose an average of five cents a gallon over the past week, AAA attributed this increase to planned maintenance at refining facilities as well as a fire at an Ohio BP refinery.
The Biden administration has frequently accused the fossil fuel industry of price gouging, particularly in late spring of this year when gas prices hit record highs. White House and administration officials have often cited the industry’s 9,000 unused oil drilling permits on federal and tribal lands, a combination of existing permits from former President Trump and permits granted under Biden.
“In an unfolding weather event, our industry is focused on keeping the energy market well-supplied and delivering fuels where they are needed most while ensuring the safety of our workforce,” an API spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. “Gasoline prices are determined by market forces — not individual companies — and claims that the price at the pump is anything but a function of supply and demand are false.”
Updated 1:54 p.m.
Source: The Hill