STORY: U.S. President Joe Biden is ramping up the pressure on oil companies.
On Wednesday, he demanded the industry explain why it isn’t putting more gasoline on the market, as prices rise for Americans across the country.
In a copy of a letter seen by Reuters, Biden complained to executives from Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy, ExxonMobil and others that they had cut back on oil refining to pad their profits.
Saying in part (quote): "At a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable…"
Biden added that a lack of refining was driving gas prices up faster than oil prices and that a “lack of refining capacity” was blunting actions by his administration to offset the impact of oil-rich Russia's invasion of Ukraine
BIDEN: “Exxon made more money than God this year.”
On Friday, the president accused the U.S. oil industry, and Exxon Mobil in particular, of capitalizing on a supply shortage to fatten profits.
BIDEN: “They're not drilling. Why aren't they drilling? Because they make more money not producing more oil. The price goes up, number one. And number two, the reason they're not drilling is they're buying back their own stock, which should be taxed, quite frankly."
U.S. energy companies are enjoying massive profits as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to a supply squeeze which has driven crude oil prices above $100 a barrel.
Meanwhile, Biden has been intensifying attacks against oil companies as gas pump prices race to record highs above $5 per gallon, and inflation surges to a 40-year record.
Rising gas prices have helped drive unexpectedly persistent consumer price inflation and voter anger before Nov. 8 midterm elections where Biden's Democratic Party is defending its control of Congress.