Six of the country’s top oil executives on Wednesday defended themselves against Democrat-led accusations that they and their companies are trying to profit off soaring gas prices and the related war in Ukraine.
"At a time of record profits, Big Oil is refusing to increase production to provide the American people some much needed relief at the gas pump,” said New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The hearing was held by the committee's investigations and oversight subcommittee and titled: "Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump."
The Biden White House has in recent days accused U.S. oil companies of refusing to activate idle wells on leased public land to produce more oil to boost energy supplies and lower gasoline prices – which are at least a dollar a gallon more than before the war started roughly seven weeks ago.
Oil executives – who on Wednesday were testifying before Congress for the second time in six months – responded that oil is a global market and that oil companies don’t dictate prices, according to the Associated Press.
"We do not control the market price of crude oil or natural gas, nor of refined products like gasoline and diesel fuel, and we have no tolerance for price gouging," Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said.
The hearing also follows President Biden ordering the release of 1 million barrels of oil daily from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve for six months to try to lower energy prices.
Biden and other Democrats blame Russian President Vladimir Putin and the U.S. oil industry for the price increases, citing reports that oil companies have made record profits in recent months and more recently during the war, the wire service also reports.
However, the GOP is pinning the blame on the president and his administration.
"This is the Biden price hike," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodger, a Republican subcommittee member, also according to the Associated Press.
The Washington state lawmaker also said prices were increasing in late February, before Russia invaded Ukraine.
"The American people are too smart and have not fallen for this" argument by Biden and other Democrats, McMorris Rodgers said, while also calling the hearing "political."
ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods said his company is increasing U.S. production – including in the oil-rich Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas – and outside of the country including Guyana, the wire service also reports.