Oil industry says Granholm meeting sends ‘positive signal’ | Government and politics

By MATTHEW DALY – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A meeting with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to lower gas prices and increase domestic oil supply was constructive, but did not produce a major breakthrough, officials said Thursday. groups representing the oil industry and refiners.

The meeting with Granholm and other senior officials took place as President Joe Biden has called on Congress to suspend federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel as a way to relieve high gas prices that have frustrated drivers and spurred inflation.

The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gasoline taxes or provide similar relief, and he publicly criticized the energy industry for prioritizing profits over production.

“It won’t take away all the pain, but it will be a big help,” Biden said Wednesday, referring to the national average of $5 a gallon for gasoline. Biden has said he is doing his part and now wants Congress, states and industry to do their part as well.

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In a joint statement, the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. fuel and petrochemical makers said Thursday the challenges facing their industry are complex, from Russia’s war in Ukraine to “market imbalances” left by COVID-19 Closures which led to a drop in demand and production.

The meeting with Granholm “should send a positive signal to the market that the United States is committed to investing for the long term in a strong U.S. refining industry and aligning its policies to reflect that commitment,” the groups said. “Our industry will continue to seek opportunities to work with policymakers to unlock American energy, fuel economic recovery and strengthen our national security.”

The meeting included executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon and Phillips 66.

The conciliatory tone contrasted with a letter sent this week by Chevron CEO Michael Wirth, who told Biden that the administration “has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry.”

Biden responded that Wirth is “mildly sensitive,” adding, “I didn’t know they would get hurt so quickly. »

Biden has in recent weeks criticized oil producers and refiners for maximizing profits and making ‘more money than God’, rather than ramping up production in response to higher prices as the economy recovers. of the pandemic and is feeling the effects of The Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He called Wednesday for a three-month suspension of the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal tax on gasoline and the 24.4-cent-per-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel. If gas savings were fully passed on to consumers, people would save just under $3 for a full 15 gallon tank of gas.

Biden’s push faces growing difficulties in Congress, where lawmakers from both parties have expressed skepticism and outright opposition. Many economists are also wary of a gas tax exemption.

High gas prices pose a fundamental threat to Biden’s electoral and political ambitions. They have driven confidence in the economy to low levels that bode ill for the defense of Democratic control of the House and Senate in November.

Biden’s past efforts to cut gasoline prices — including releasing oil from the U.S. strategic reserve and greater blending of ethanol this summer — have failed to deliver savings at the pump, a risk that carries over to the idea of ​​a gas tax exemption.

There is little the president can do to fix the prices set by global markets, for-profit corporations, consumer demand and the aftershocks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent embargoes. The underlying problem is a shortage of oil and refineries that produce gas, a challenge that a tax holiday may not necessarily solve.

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