The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 8.6% between May 2021 and May 2022 — indicating that inflation reached its highest level in four decades, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, gas prices reached $5 per gallon on Thursday.
Following a speech about the dismal economic news, a reporter pressed Biden to comment on whether he would “go after” the profits of oil company ExxonMobil.
“Exxon made more money than God this year,” Biden remarked. “And by the way, nothing has changed. … We talk about how they have 9,000 permits to drill. They’re not drilling. Why aren’t they drilling? Because they make more money not producing more oil.”
President Biden threatens oil companies, blaming them for the sky-high gas prices because they want to continue making "more money than God this year." pic.twitter.com/MfnUh0oPeM
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 10, 2022
“The reason they’re not drilling is they’re buying back their own stock — which should be taxed, quite frankly,” Biden added. “I always thought Republicans were for investment. Exxon — start investing, start paying your taxes.”
Indeed, ExxonMobil reported $5.5 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2022, despite taking a $3.4 billion hit amid its exit from Russia. During the fourth quarter of 2021, ExxonMobil reported an $8.87 billion profit — its largest in seven years.
Republicans, however, noted last month in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo that the White House has been maintaining a “de facto ban on new drilling” by “sitting idle on over 9,000 drilling permits” and millions of acres of inactive leases.
On the day of Biden’s inauguration, gas cost $2.39 per gallon — a figure that doubled to $4.82 last week before reaching $5 on Thursday. On February 21, 2022 — three days before the start of the Ukraine war — gas cost $3.53 per gallon, representing a 48% increase from Biden’s first day in office.
Nevertheless, a statement from President Biden characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as the main factor behind the higher prices.
“Putin’s Price Hike hit hard in May here and around the world: high gas prices at the pump, energy, and food prices accounted for around half of the monthly price increases, and gas pump prices are up by $2 a gallon in many places since Russian troops began to threaten Ukraine,” Biden argued. “Even as we continue our work to defend freedom in Ukraine, we must do more — and quickly — to get prices down here in the United States.”
The White House also faced criticism for nixing expansions to the Keystone XL Pipeline last year. More recently, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that the Biden administration had “no plans” to reconsider opening pipeline construction.
However, the White House has argued that high gas prices will help the United States transition more quickly to renewable energy.
“Here’s the situation,” Biden said last month. “And when it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.”