According to two sources familiar with the situation, Friday’s White House meeting will include oil executives to discuss Hurricane Ian and low gasoline inventories. As President Joe Biden urges businesses not to price-gouge customers, officials from the White House Office of American Innovation are expected to meet with oil executives on Friday to talk about Typhoon Ian and low gasoline stocks.
The meeting comes as the administration is trying to contain the fallout from rising gas prices in the wake of the hurricane. Biden has been briefed on the situation and spoke to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday about it, according to a White House official.
During his conversation with Granholm, Biden “reiterated his instruction that her team continue to work with states and localities to ensure they have the resources they need as we respond to this emergency,” the official said.
The administration is also monitoring gas prices closely and is “prepared to take action if necessary to protect consumers,” the official said.
Biden has sternly warned oil companies not to exploit the recent storm as an opportunity to raise gasoline prices, which earlier this year saw a sharp increase after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Do not, let me repeat, do not…use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American people” Biden said this week.
“I’ll be watching you, I’ll have my Justice Department on your tail, and so will every elected official in this country.”
The oil industry has defended its actions, saying that they are responding to market conditions and not trying to take advantage of the situation. “We share the administration’s goal of ensuring that American motorists are not price-gouged,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital. “However, it is important to remember that oil markets are global in nature, and while US crude oil production has risen to new all-time highs, domestic refining capacity has not kept pace. This disconnect between supply and demand is what is driving up gasoline prices.”
Still, the administration is under pressure to do something about gas prices, which are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks.