The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The administration’s efforts come as the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline stood at a record $4.60 Wednesday, just as the summer driving season is set to begin. In California, prices are more than $6 a gallon, according to AAA.
But the White House, which has established an interagency “energy markets team” that has been monitoring energy supply and price data for the past several months, has few good options available to tame gasoline prices. Pump prices have have sky-rocketing amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that sent oil futures north of $100 a barrel.
More than 1 million barrels a day of the country’s oil refining capacity — or about 5% overall — has shut since the beginning of the pandemic. Elsewhere in the world, capacity has shrunk by 2.13 million additional barrels a day, energy consultancy Turner, Mason & Co. estimates. And with no plans to bring new US plants online, even though refiners are reaping record profits, the supply squeeze is only going to get worse.
“They are in a very difficult political situation,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top US lobbying group. “They are looking for every option that is out there.”