House Energy Committee chair calls on oil companies to testify on gas prices

Source: By Zack Budryk, The Hill • Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2022

House Energy Committee chair calls on oil companies to testify on gas prices
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) on Wednesday sent letters to six oil company CEOs asking them to testify about their business practices during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and amid a surge in gas prices.In the letter, Pallone noted that numerous oil companies have seen record profits in recent years and that the fossil fuel drilling industry currently has more than 9,000 unused drilling permits across over 26 million acres of public lands.

Recipients of the letters include executives from BP, Chevron, Devon Energy Corporation, ExxonMobil, Pioneer Natural Resources and Royal Dutch Shell. Pallone is asking them to testify on April 6.

“As American families confront high gasoline prices caused by the volatility of global energy markets and Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, I am deeply concerned that the oil industry has not taken all actions within its power to lower domestic gasoline prices and alleviate Americans’ pain at the pump,” Pallone wrote in the letters. “Instead, the industry appears to be taking advantage of the crisis for its own benefit.”

The letters come the same day that President Biden noted the drop in oil prices in recent days, which has not yet translated to gas prices, and suggested oil companies are hoarding the profits. However, Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told The Hill on Wednesday that gasoline prices tend to rise quickly in response to oil prices but decline more gradually.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee last year heard testimony from several of the same companies, with leadership questioning whether they had knowingly suppressed evidence of the connection between burning fossil fuels and climate change. Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) later subpoenaed the witnesses, saying they had not provided requested documents voluntarily.

The Hill has reached out to the recipients for comment. An ExxonMobil spokesperson told The Hill the company is reviewing the letter.