WASHINGTON — An oil industry meeting with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to lower gas prices and boost domestic oil supplies was constructive, but did not produce a breakthrough, administration and industry officials said Thursday.
The closed-door meeting came as President Joe Biden called on Congress to suspend federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel as a way to relieve high gas prices that have frustrated drivers and spurred inflation.
The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, and he delivered a public critique of the energy industry for prioritizing profits over production.
“It doesn’t reduce all the pain but it will be a big help,” Biden said Wednesday, referring to the national average of $5 per gallon for gas. Biden said he was doing his part and now wants Congress, states and industry to do their parts as well.
In a joint statement, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said Thursday that challenges facing their industry are complex, from Russia’s war in Ukraine to “market imbalances” leftover from COVID-19 shutdowns that led to reduced demand and production.
The meeting with Granholm “should send a positive signal to the market that the U.S. is committed to long-term investment in a strong U.S. refining industry and aligning policies to reflect that commitment,’’ the groups said. “Our industry will continue to seek opportunities to work with policymakers to unlock American energy, fuel economic recovery and strengthen our national security.’’
In a separate statement, the Energy Department said Granholm reminded the oil companies and refiners that their customers, workers and communities “are feeling the pain at the pump because of Putin’s price hike,’’ a reference to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s February invasion of Ukraine, which prompted a ban on Russian oil by the United States and many Western allies.
“At a time when Putin is using energy as a weapon, oil companies must deliver solutions to ensure secure, affordable supply,’’ the Energy Department said.
The meeting at the Energy Department included executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon and Phillips 66 and other large companies.