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Biden asks FTC to look into 'potentially illegal conduct' on gas prices

By Megan Hadley
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Biden asks FTC to look into 'potentially illegal conduct' on gas prices
President Joe Biden said the Federal Trace Commission has a responsibility to make sure oil companies aren't "costing families at the pump." Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 17 (UPI) -- As gas prices rise across the United States, President Joe Biden called on the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to investigate "potentially illegal conduct" among gas companies.

In a letter addressed to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, Biden said, "The bottom line is this: Gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies' costs are declining."

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He added that the FTC had a responsibility to make sure oil companies weren't "costing families at the pump."

The American Petroleum Institute called Biden's comments a distraction.

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"Rather than launching investigations on markets that are closely regulated and closely monitored on a daily basis or pleading with OPEC to increase supply, we should be encouraging the safe and responsible development of American-made oil and natural gas," Frank Macchiarola, API senior vice president, said in a statement to CNN.

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RELATED Rising energy costs lead to 6% rise in U.S. consumer prices over 2020

Biden urged the gas companies to act immediately.

"The two largest oil and gas companies in the United States are on track to almost double their net income compared with 2019 levels, while the two companies have also announced stock buybacks and dividend hikes," Biden wrote.

This year, Exxon, one of the largest gas companies in the United States, predicted second-quarter earnings of $4.7 billion, while Chevron, another large gas company, reported earnings at $6.1 billion for the third quarter.

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Biden said prices at the pump correspond with movements in the price of unfinished gasoline, but for the past month, the price of unfinished gas is down more than 5 percent, while gas prices continue to rise.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline is $3.41, according to data from AAA, which is up from $3.31 a month ago and $2.12 a year ago.

This week, California reached a state record high price of $4.69.

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