WASHINGTON, DC -- After U.S. Senator Jack Reed led calls for the White House to take action on gas prices, President Joe Biden today urged regulators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine whether oil and gas companies are engaging in possible anti-competitive behavior or “illegal conduct” that is unfairly harming consumers at the pump.

Reed called Biden’s letter to the FTC a “positive step” and encouraged the White House to also tap into the U.S. government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve and work with Congress to reinstate the crude oil export ban in order to help lower gasoline prices.

“Gas prices are too high.  I commend President Biden for taking action to help lower them.  He is focused on the needs of everyday Americans and this move is another demonstration of that focus.  Opening this investigation and cracking down on anti-competitive behavior that artificially inflates gas prices is a positive step.  I also urge the Biden Administration to help consumers by tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and work with Congress to reinstate a temporary ban on exports of U.S. oil to foreign markets.”

President Biden’s letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan noted: “The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies’ costs are declining.” Biden continued: “The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately.”

Senator Reed echoed Biden’s call to investigate the oil and gas industry and says the data gathered from the probe could help consumers in the long run.

“This investigation could be a game changer.  The price of unrefined gasoline is down over five percent in the last month, but prices at the pump have actually gone up over three percent during the same period.  Gas companies need to open their books and regulators need to see if the system is being unfairly manipulated.  If consumers are being gouged then that is unacceptable and the industry needs to pay.  It’s time for the FTC to look under the hood of Big Oil,” said Reed.

President Biden’s letter also noted that the two largest oil companies, ExxonMobil and Chevron, are on track to nearly double their net income since 2019 and have announced plans to use billions of dollars to issue dividends and buy back stock.

“The American people are being forced to cut back because of high gas prices while big oil companies are raking in record profits and benefiting from unnecessary government subsidies.  President Biden should make it clear that he is willing to tap the SPR to help keep prices down and reinstate the ban on sending U.S. oil to overseas markets,” said Reed.

From 1975 to 2015, the crude oil export ban prohibited most crude oil exports from the United States to foreign countries.  Reinstating the ban would keep American-produced oil stateside and help lower prices for American consumers.