President Joe Biden has once again challenged oil and gas companies making record profits but doing little to alleviate consumer concerns at the pump. During a Monday White House press conference, the president called for those companies to increase production and refining capacity. “If they don’t, they’re gonna pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. My team will work with Congress to look through these options that are available to us and others,” Biden promised during the brief presser, which lasted just a few minutes.
The President was joined by Energy Department Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, with whom he said had discussed options to hold the likes of Shell and Exxon accountable. “It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities in this country, and give the American people a break and still do very well,” Biden said. “The American people are going to judge who’s standing with them and who is only looking out for their own bottom line. I know where I stand.”
Though Biden’s past efforts of proposing a gas tax holiday ultimately didn’t pan out, his efforts to levy a windfall tax on oil and gas companies could gain traction. The European Union agreed to a similar windfall tax, as has the U.K. But Republicans appear to have little interest in holding the fossil fuel companies whose campaign donations many of them benefit from accountable. A joint letter sent to Yellen in May signed by 50 GOP lawmakers made it abundantly clear they’d do anything to preserve Big Oil’s record profits and self-enrichment.
Voters—even Republican voters—don’t agree with protecting oil and gas companies. A League of Conservation Voters poll from earlier this year found that 73% of Republicans actually wanted windfall taxes. Pollsters found that 80% of voters favored windfall taxes, though things get a bit more tricky when it comes to other means of tackling oil and gas industry greed. Unsurprisingly, Democrats were far more interested in combatting climate change and accelerating renewables adoption, while Republicans were less interested in reducing the country’s dependence on oil.
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