Washington, Jun 22 (EFE).- President Joe Biden once again on Wednesday criticized oil companies, accusing them of not refining enough crude oil and demanding that they lower the price of fuel for US consumers “right now.”
Noting that over the past two weeks, the crude oil price has fallen by more than $10 per barrel and normally that would reduce gas prices by about $0.25 per gallon, although oil companies have only cut prices by a few cents, Biden added that “I fully understand that a gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem, but it will provide families some immediate relief, just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”
The president made his remarks at the White House as he was asking Congress to approve his proposal to eliminate federal taxes on gasoline and diesel during the months of July, August and September.
Biden’s plan would temporarily remove the $0.18 tax per gallon gasoline and the $0.24 tax per gallon on diesel imposed by the federal government to pay for highway maintenance, among other things.
The president said that the country’s strong economic recovery after the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic would allow the government to perform the necessary work to maintain US roadways without needing the money coming from those taxes.
It is not clear, however, how much savings would be transferred to consumers, and Republicans have not delayed in calling the proposal a mid-term election year “trick” that, in addition, would only serve to increase inflation, which is already higher than it has been in quite a number of years.
Biden has wanted to send a message to conservatives to assure them that the problem of gas prices is not due to a lack of production of US crude but rather that the country’s oil companies are not refining enough petroleum due to the closure of refineries during the pandemic.
On Thursday, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will meet with executives from several oil companies, including Chevron and ExxonMobil, to try and find solutions to the historic rise in fuel prices.
Granholm said that she was going to ask the firms what their production capacity is, her comments coming during the daily White House press conference shortly after Biden finished making his remarks.
She also clarified that part of the reason that she will be meeting with the oil firm execs is to see how the price reduction resulting from an elimination of federal taxes can be passed on to consumers.
The energy chief acknowledged the distrust among oil companies, especially after the letters Biden sent last week to execs of seven of those firms demanding “immediate” action to deal with the historic fuel price increase.
Granholm said that she will go into the meeting without any “lines drawn in the sand,” and that she will honestly discuss with the execs how to transform the big profits their firms have been making into alleviating the hit consumers are taking in their wallets due to the higher prices.
In addition, the energy secretary issued a call to the firms to strengthen their investments in renewable energy and lower fuel emissions, including solar and nuclear power, with an eye toward fostering an energy transition and limiting dependence on fossil fuels.
The US administration mainly blames Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the rise in fuel prices and asserts that this is the price Americans must pay so that Russia doesn’t “get away with it.”
Gas prices in the US on June 11 reached $5 per gallon, a record set even as the country is experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years.
A year ago, in June 2021, the average per-gallon gas price in the US was $3.07, practically $2 below the current price.
In addition, in 20 of the country’s 50 states prices are above $5 per gallon, especially on the West Coast.