Posted: Nov 25, 2021 / 6:03 am CST
Updated: 11/25/2021 / 6:03 AM CST

High gasoline prices will be announced at a full-service gas station in Beverly Hills, California on Sunday, November 7, 2021. The average US price of regular gasoline rose 5 cents in the past two weeks to $ 3.49 a gallon. The price at the pump is $ 1.30 higher than a year ago. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg poll said on Sunday the surge would come with the rise in crude oil and ethanol prices. Nationwide, the highest average price for normal gas is in the San Francisco Bay Area at $ 4.77 per gallon. The lowest average in Houston is $ 2.98 per gallon. (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes)

(The Hill) – The White House is making various stops trying to get gasoline prices under control at the start of what is expected to be a busy vacation travel season.

The government is developing the strategic oil reserve, and President Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil companies are responsible for rising prices.

But the focus on gas prices has fueled Republican attacks on Biden’s handling of the economy, and especially its energy policies, at a time when the White House is hoping to support the ambitious climate targets in its spending plan of around $ 2 trillion .

AAA this month forecast 53.4 million people will travel for Thanksgiving, a 13 percent increase from 2020 when many Americans chose not to travel across the country with coronavirus cases and deaths.

The busy traveling season ahead has put gasoline prices in the spotlight in particular, as the spotlight has shifted to general concerns about inflation, something the White House has tried to show it is under control.

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“Obviously the president doesn’t control the price of gasoline – no president does,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters on Tuesday. “But what we are seeing right now is this global mismatch between supply and demand. Oil production is lagging behind as the rest of the economy comes back to life after the shutdown. “

“So we’re leaving no stone unturned in this administration as we research the market to see what’s behind the high prices,” she said.

The White House has shown more urgency in recent weeks by publicly announcing how it is trying to provide relief to Americans struggling with inflation, especially after the Department of Labor released statistics showing consumer prices are in the October rose much faster than expected and that annual inflation reached a 30-year high. This increase was due in part to rising energy costs and increased costs at the pump.

Biden wrote to the Federal Trade Commission last week urging the agency to investigate whether the oil companies had unfairly pumped up prices at the pump.

And on Tuesday, the government announced, in coordination with several other countries, that it would release 50 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic oil reserve in order to match supply with demand.

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Experts | have questioned whether either step will do much to help bring prices down noticeably right away, and they warned that other factors, such as how the pandemic unfolds, are more likely to affect price in the months ahead.

That has led some Conservatives to wonder if the White House’s action on gas prices was more of a political maneuver, as polls after polls have shown voters got pissed off at Biden, particularly at his handling of the economy , with his approval ratings falling in the low 40s.

“This is being done to use every tool the president has at his disposal to bring the price of gas down for the American people,” said the White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday when asked if the strategic reserve was being tapped for political purposes.

Republicans have been on the offensive over the past few weeks over inflation, and the Biden administration’s decision to release oil from strategic reserves provided more fodder for attacks on their energy policies.

Former president Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers argued that the Biden government’s desire to move away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy industries had created problems at the pump.

“Today’s announcement is nothing more than a gesture. If the president and his administration wanted real, long-term impact, they would work to maximize domestic production and speed up energy infrastructure like pipelines – rather than banning states from drilling and levying a federal tax on methane, ”Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), a senior member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.

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Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), The Republican chief on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, accused the Democrats of “waging a war on American energy.

Even Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who opposed some climate initiatives in Biden’s Build Back Better-Agenda, called the release of oil from the reserves an “important political patch for rising gas prices” while criticizing the government’s energy Politics as “short-sighted”.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Biden sought to reassure the public that the US economy is on the up and that a price hike will not be a long-term problem.

“I would also like to briefly touch on a myth about inflated gas prices: They are not due to environmental measures. My effort to combat climate change is not to raise the price of gas or increase its availability, ”Biden said in prepared remarks, arguing that investing in electric vehicles, solar cells and other sectors would boost job creation and innovation.

“Let’s tackle climate change with broader innovations and opportunities,” he added. “If we do that, we can make our economy and our consumers less prone to such price spikes.”