By Jack Phillips
The CEO of Chevron sent an open letter to President Joe Biden after Biden sent a letter suggesting that oil companies could face consequences and accusing them of not doing enough to increase refining capacity.
Mike Wirth, in the letter, called on the White House to end its hostilities toward the oil industry, saying there needs to be a change in its approach and policies before gas prices can drop.
“Addressing this situation requires thoughtful action and a willingness to work together, not political rhetoric,” Wirth said, adding, “Your Administration has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry.”
More than a week ago, Biden attacked oil companies and claimed they’re making record profits before urging them to increase oil production to alleviate record-high gas prices. Targeting ExxonMobil specifically, Biden accused them of making “more money than God” and not drilling enough during comments he made in May.
Soaring Gas Prices
In recent months, Biden has taken criticism as regular gas prices have eclipsed the $5 per gallon mark. AAA data shows that prices fell for several days before rising again this week to $4.96 per gallon.
Since Biden took office, gas prices have been steadily increasing as the president issued a number of energy-related executive orders, including suspending new oil drilling leases and ending the Keystone XL pipeline.
“The U.S. energy sector needs cooperation and support from your Administration for our country to return to a path toward greater energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental protection,” Wirth said in the letter, adding that Chevron has increased production in recent years.
Oil companies “need clarity and consistency on policy matters ranging from leases and permits on federal lands, to the ability to permit and build critical infrastructure, to the proper role of regulation that considers both costs and benefits,” Wirth added.
“Most importantly, we need an honest dialogue on how to best balance energy, economic, and environmental objectives–one that recognizes our industry is a vital sector of the U.S. economy and is essential to our national security,” he said. “We can only meet these challenges by working together.”
When asked about the letter, Biden didn’t appear to try and tone down the tensions.
“I didn’t know they’d get their feelings hurt that quickly. We need more refining capacity. This idea that they don’t have more oil to bring up and refine is simply not true,” he told reporters.
Last week, ExxonMobil responded to Biden’s letter and said it had invested $118 billion in new oil and gas supplies compared to a net income of $55 billion.
“We kept investing even during the pandemic, when we lost more than $20 billion and had to borrow more than $30 billion to maintain investment to increase capacity to be ready for post-pandemic demand,” the company stated.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is slated to meet with oil industry executives on Thursday to discuss ways to reduce energy prices.