WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is supporting a Democrat-backed bill that will greatly enhance the power of President Joe Biden to control fuel prices within the U.S.
However, it is not clear how prices of imported fuel would be controlled.
REPORT: @TheDemocrats Have Introduced The "Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act" Which Would Give @JoeBiden The Power & Authority To Introduce Artificial #PriceControls As Are Done In #Communist & Authoritarian Countries. https://t.co/8FlqT9uXeq— John Basham 🇺🇲 (@JohnBasham) May 12, 2022
The Biden administration has blamed out-of-control fuel prices on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, calling it “Putin’s price hike.”
Biden also blamed former President Donald Trump, who he recently referred to as “the great MAGA king,” for increasing the deficit.
Watch "Biden's 'Great MAGA King' jab blows up in his face" on YouTube https://t.co/CirRmw7F5d— christian marotte (@chris_marotte) May 13, 2022
During her weekly press briefing, Pelosi also blamed U.S. oil corporations for rising fuel prices, claiming that they were exploiting consumers and that gouging them is an actual “part of the business plan of companies.”
At the briefing, Pelosi pushed H.R. 7688, a bill known as the “Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act.” Its intention is “to protect consumers from price-gouging of consumer fuels, and for other purposes.”
Biden blames Putin again for his US inflation problems and high prices at the pump. At the same time he continues excessive spending and keeping oil companies from adding supply to reduce gas prices for Americans.— Goodjake4sure (@goodjake4sure) May 12, 2022
The bill would allow President Biden to declare an “energy emergency proclamation” and then have the power to regulate prices by stopping fuel companies from selling their products at prices considered to be “unconscionably excessive” and exploitative.
The bill would give President Biden price-control powers that could last months or years due to the renewal clause inserted within it:
“The President may issue an energy emergency proclamation for any area within the jurisdiction of the United States, during which the prohibition in paragraph (1) shall apply, that includes the geographic area covered, the consumer fuel covered, and the time period that such proclamation shall be in effect.”
Yep Joe a idiot.https://t.co/Y1T3guA0ri— Master Jonathan Wint (@ApepJonathan) May 12, 2022
While the bill states that the proclamation “may not apply for a period of more than 30 consecutive days,” it can “be renewed for such consecutive periods, each not to exceed 30 days, as the President determines appropriate.”
It also includes “a period of time not to exceed 1 week before a reasonably foreseeable emergency.”
She may want to read this from Dallas Fed https://t.co/mypqfa2ReE— dg (@DerrenGeiger) May 13, 2022
“Next week on the floor of the House, we will have another piece of our lowering-costs-for-the-American-people legislation for first House Democrats, led by [Washington] Congresswoman [Kim] Schrier and [California] Congresswoman [Katie] Porter introduced the ‘Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act.’
“While families are struggling to pay higher prices at the pump, oil and gas companies are recording record profits, with [the] seven largest oil companies announcing buybacks that could total $41 billion this year alone.
“Again and again, we see gas prices rise, sometimes when the cost of oil drops, oil prices drop, and price gouging needs to be stopped. This is a major exploitation of the consumer because this is a product that the consumer must have.
“Again, the Putin tax cut hike at the pump is a part of this, and you would think that the oil companies would compensate for that rather than exploit the opportunity that it — so in this bill, what this bill does [is] — price gouging needs to be addressed, including new tools at the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] to address those abuses.
“Our bill enables the president to issue an energy emergency declaration making it unlawful to increase gas and home energy prices in an exploitative and excessive way, which is part of the business plan of these companies.”
Guys. This is insane.— Joshua Fontanilla (@joshfontanilla) May 12, 2022
Like, this will literally send us into an economic depression.
Oil companies will simply cut supply more, and the economic death spiral won’t be able to be stopped.
EVERYTHING is based on oil. If we destroy that industry, it’s all over. Food, heating, etc https://t.co/AoIqBsBt99
Daily Wire noted:
“Violations of the order would be treated as an unfair or deceptive trade practice, and enforced by the FTC. The bill instructs the FTC to prioritize sellers with total wholesale or retail sales of more than $500 million annually for enforcement.
“The bill also sets up a ‘Consumer Relief Trust Fund’ to deposit fines collected by the FTC while enforcing an energy emergency. Those funds would be distributed to low-income households via the Department of Health and Human Services’ ‘Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program’ and the Department of Energy’s ‘Weatherization Assistance Program.’
“Democrats have continued to press short-term, demand side solutions, such as rebate programs and gas cards, to soaring gas prices, which broke new record highs on Wednesday at $4.40 a gallon, according to AAA.
“The Biden administration has also called for oil companies to increase supply right away. But the administration canceled an enormous oil and gas lease sale in Alaska and two sales under consideration in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday.”
And $40 Billion to Ukraine really helps the situation— H (@HallieCool) May 11, 2022
Are U.S. oil companies responsible for lowering retail fuel prices?
“Even though the price of oil makes up over half of the retail price of gasoline, oil companies play an extremely limited role in how retail gasoline prices are set.
“While U.S. retail gasoline prices in many regions have remained stubbornly high since March, this situation reflects frictions in the retail gasoline market rather than the supply of oil or the price of oil.
“We discuss why, in many regions, pump prices have not fallen as quickly as oil prices have recently and explain why this asymmetry need not be an indication of price gouging.
“Finally, we examine the obstacles to substantially increasing U.S. oil production. We make the case that even under the most favorable circumstances, higher production growth is unlikely to materially lower global oil prices—and, thus, U.S. retail gasoline prices—in the foreseeable future.”
Biden administration cancels Alaska oil and gas lease salehttps://t.co/ECwVMvw6qo— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 12, 2022
The Federal Reserve Bank also noted that gas retailing involves a complex supply chain and that only 1 percent of service stations in the U.S. are actually owned by companies that also produce oil:
“Before a gallon of gasoline is pumped into a car’s tank, it has traveled through a complex supply chain.
“Independent oil and gas companies—those without refining assets—are responsible for 83 percent of U.S. oil production and about half of the oil consumed in this country.
“Oil is sold in competitive markets at prices reflecting global supply and demand. It is refined into gasoline, diesel and other fuels whose prices are similarly set in competitive markets.
“Fuels are then sent to more than 400 U.S. distribution facilities, from which they are sold and delivered to retailers and end users at another price depending on local conditions.
“Gas station operators set retail prices based on their expected acquisition cost for the next delivery of fuel from the local distributor, federal and state tax rates, and a markup that covers operating expenses, such as rent, delivery charges and credit card fees.
“Since only 1 percent of service stations in the U.S. are owned by companies that also produce oil, U.S. oil producers are in no position to control retail gasoline prices.”
The bank also suggested that the slow decline of fuel prices was not an automatic sign of price gouging:
“Given that crude oil accounts for 59 percent of the cost of gasoline, a 34 percent increase in the price of oil should imply a 20 percent increase in the retail gas price. Likewise, a 22 percent decline in the price of oil should translate to a 13 percent decline in the pump price. However, that did not happen at the national level.”
Through a chart, the bank showed that the spot price of gasoline (the price of gasoline at the refinery gate), as proxied by the prompt contract for New York Mercantile Exchange RBOB gasoline, generally rose and fell with the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil, and it noted:
“However, the response of U.S. pump prices has been highly asymmetric. While the price of retail gasoline cumulatively rose about as much as expected following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, recent national retail gasoline prices dropped only 6 percent from the March peak, far less than the expected 13 percent.
“This indicates that retail gasoline prices remaining persistently high was not the result of an oil shortage or high oil prices. Rather, the elevated retail gasoline prices must be attributed to events in the U.S. retail gasoline market beyond the control of oil producers.”
On day one Biden went after US energy /oil companies and created a hostile biz environment With his polices. He gave up our energy independence. Just saying…— Reasonable (@Adrienn56074639) May 11, 2022
The bank further pointed out:
“Moreover, the asymmetry of the response of retail gasoline prices need not be evidence of price gouging. One potential explanation is that station operators are recapturing margins lost during the upswing, when gas stations were initially slow to increase pump prices.
“The reluctance to lower retail prices also likely reflects concerns that oil prices—and, hence, wholesale gasoline prices—may quickly rebound, eating into station profit margins.
“Another possible reason for this asymmetry is consumers’ tendency to more intensively search for lower pump prices as gasoline prices rise than when they decline.
“This diminished search effort provides further pricing power to gas stations, causing prices to fall more slowly than they rose. This has prompted researchers to liken the response of gasoline prices to higher oil prices to a rocket—and the response to lower oil prices to a feather.
“Yet another potential explanation for this asymmetry is that seasonal demand tends to increase as the weather warms, supporting higher retail prices.”
The Federal Reserve Bank also reported that prices do not uniformly change across the country and suggested that “price-reduction policies that treat all regions of the country the same are unlikely to be effective at curing the root causes of the asymmetry in the aggregate retail price response.”
In addition, oil producers are facing difficulties with increasing production. The bank noted:
“Consumers and policymakers often ask what domestic oil producers can do to raise output and lower gasoline prices, especially since producers’ profitability has greatly improved in 2022.
“Because the price of crude oil is determined in global markets, increases in domestic oil production affect the retail price of gasoline only to the extent that they lower global oil prices.
“Many observers point out that oil companies currently hold nearly 9,000 permits to drill on federal lands. But holding 9,000 permits does not equate to 9,000 well locations that are worth drilling, nor would it be possible to churn through that much inventory in a reasonable time frame.
“Data provider Enersection found that since 2015, an average of 1,560 wells have been drilled on federal lands annually, but only 47 percent of federal permits issued were actually utilized. This is because companies tend to acquire permits on the acreage they lease even if they are not certain whether the location is worth developing.”
Producers and service companies are also constrained by labor shortages, rising input costs and supply-chain bottlenecks like other businesses are currently facing.
An industry that lacks experienced staff and materials cannot on short notice substantially increase drilling and production.
Finally, the bank said that even under the most optimistic view, U.S. production increases would likely add only a few hundred thousand barrels per day above current forecasts:
“This amounts to a proverbial drop in the bucket in the 100-million-barrel-per-day global oil market, especially relative to a looming reduction in Russian oil exports due to war-related sanctions that could easily reach 3 million barrels per day.
“Placing the responsibility to lower retail gasoline prices on shale oil producers is thus unlikely to work, and additional regulation of oil producers is unlikely to lower pump prices.”
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