White House Says ‘No Action’ at This Time to Tame Surging Gas Prices but ‘All Tools’ on Table

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The White House said Thursday that the Biden administration is not taking action at this time in response to gasoline prices hitting seven-year highs and elevated crude oil and natural gas prices, adopting a wait-and-see approach while insisting “all tools in the toolbox” remain at the ready.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made the remarks at an Oct. 7 briefing in response to a question about what steps the administration was taking to keep rising gasoline, natural gas, and oil prices in check.

“We continue to monitor global energy market supply, and we’ll work with our agency partners to determine if and when actions are needed,” she said, noting that the administration reacted to a divergence between gasoline and crude oil prices over the summer by reaching out to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate potential price collusion.

“We’re going to monitor the market and the means considering all tools in the toolbox to protect the American people. But as we said, there is no plan to take action at this time,” Jean-Pierre added, with her statement echoing remarks made earlier in the week by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who said the Biden administration was considering tapping the nation’s emergency oil reserves to tame soaring gasoline prices.

Following Granholm’s announcement, oil prices dropped below $75 per barrel, though after the Energy Department later clarified there was “no immediate plan” to tap the emergency crude stockpile, oil rallied.

Gasoline prices hit a fresh seven-year high this week, with Oct. 4 data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing the national average for regular unleaded fuel running at $3.19 a gallon at the pumps.

“The probable causes for the increase are a slight uptick in demand and the high price of crude oil, which is stubbornly staying above $73” per barrel, the AAA said in an Oct. 4 note, which held out hope that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, would agree to boost production more sharply to ease the supply crunch.

By Tom Ozimek

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