Obama told an audience in New Hampshire that the oil industry was the recipient of $4 billion in subsidies backed by U.S. taxpayer dollars.
"Every time you go to the gas tank or fill up your gas tank, they're making money. Every time," the president said. "Now, does anyone really think that Congress should give them another $4 billion this year?"
But Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer at trade group API, said the president had it wrong.
"The president has it backwards, our industry pays the government nearly $90 million dollars a day -- the biggest contributor of government revenue than any other industry in the United States," said Gerard.
U.S. lawmakers are sniping over domestic energy policies as gasoline prices in most U.S. markets move closer to $4 per gallon. Republican critics of the White House say Obama is blocking domestic energy production, which means higher oil prices.
Analysts, however, said tensions in the Middle East are likely contributors to escalating prices.
The White House states that U.S. dependence on foreign oil has gone down every year since Obama came into office in 2009. The president has said there "are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices."