Published On: Wed, Jun 22nd, 2022

White House pushes back on claims Biden is ‘vilifying’ US oil industry: ‘This isn’t personal’


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The White House pushed back Wednesday on continued claims President Biden is vilifying the oil industry while simultaneously urging them to increase their production and refining capacity.

American Rescue Plan coordinator and top Biden adviser Gene Sperling told “The Story” on Fox News the commercial confrontation “isn’t personal” – after the CEO of Chevron issued a biting response to Biden’s warnings about reportedly high profits amid record pricing.

Mike Wirth, whose company also owns the Texaco and Havoline brands, wrote back to Biden saying Chevron’s 37,000 employees seek to power American lives through energy production every day, but “notwithstanding these efforts, your Administration has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry.”

Wirth also nodded to the Russia-Ukrain war, saying the energy sector indeed needs domestic political “cooperation” and policy consistency from Washington to be able to make the most productive corporate choices on behalf of U.S. consumers.

California gas prices.

California gas prices.
((Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images))

In response, Sperling said Biden is indeed trying to lower prices at the pump:

“This isn’t personal. We’re trying to talk about bringing down prices at the gas pump for gas pump for Americans. I think most of the people out there who are paying those prices are glad that the president is sending a strong signal to the oil industry and the major refineries that they want to see more capacity,” he said.

Critics have counterclaimed Biden’s repeated campaign “guarantee” to “end fossil fuel” and his executive cancellation of Canadian-American pipelines have shown otherwise.

“The president’s not going to be afraid to call out the fact that everyone has to do their part,” Sperling later added. “There is the fact that there are a lot of refinery profits: $35 billion in oil profits in one quarter and a lot more stock-buybacks. And there are innovative, ingenious efforts to do something in this time of war to bring down gas prices at the pump.”

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Sperling said Biden wants to enact a federal gas tax holiday – which would save gasoline consumers 18.4 cpg and diesel consumers 24 cpg – and also wants states to use any budget surpluses to enact their own state gas tax holidays.

California, Illinois and Pennsylvania all have state gas taxes above 55 cpg, In one of those states, Pennsylvania, State Senate leader Jake Corman III, R-Centre, said in March he would support funding a tax reduction utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan that Sperling is coordinating.

Some Democrats in that state are also on board with a gas-tax holiday, including longtime State Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, who called for suspending the 58 cpg levy through the summer – writing in a legislative memo “everyone is hurting from the effects of inflation.”

Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg, has said he supports a similar tax respite, lamenting families’ economic struggles and those potentially canceling vacations and the like. 

“I am hopeful that [a suspension] will also serve as a useful pilot for a possible long-term phase-out of the PA gas tax,” he said.

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In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan successfully enacted a now-expired 30-day gas tax holiday there earlier in Spring, while Virginia’s legislature declined one supported by Gov. Glenn Youngkin this week.

New York State also enacted a tax holiday, saving drivers 16 cpg through the end of the year.

On “The Story,” Sperling added that the White House’s willingness to sit down with oil executives via Energy Secretary Jen Granholm shows they are seeking a constructive solution.

“[W]e’re willing to work with them and listen to their ideas and see what we can do as a nation to lower prices,” he said.

“And any ideas that come out there are going to be considered closely by the president.”



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