WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday warned oil and gas companies not to raise prices for consumers when Hurricane Ian hit the southwest coast of Florida.
“Don’t, let me repeat, don’t use this as an excuse to raise gas prices or poke fun at the American people,” Biden said at the start of a campaign. American famine conference and just hours before the storm made landfall as a major Category 4 hurricane.
Biden said the storm had “no reason to raise prices at the pump” and that if it did, he would ask federal officials to determine “whether price gouging is taking place.”
“America is watching. The industry should do the right thing,” Biden added.
There are few indications that average gas prices have risen significantly in Florida as the storm begins to hit. AAA puts the statewide average at just under $3.40 a gallon, six tenths of a cent higher than a week ago.
Pump price reduced for 99 days nationwide ended recentlyand the 14-week decline is the longest streak since 2015. The national average price rose past $5/gallon – and $6 in California – in June as the economic recovery and upswing Tourism boosted gasoline demand, and Russia’s war in Ukraine sent oil prices soaring.
Gasoline prices largely reflect trends in global oil prices, and crude oil – both by US and international Brent benchmarks – has been falling since mid-June on growing concerns about a the global economic downturn that will reduce the need for energy.
Many energy analysts believe that prices are more likely to rise than fall over the next few months. But change in sentiment about the economyof Russia war against Ukraineand even hurricane season – always a threat to disrupt refineries along the Gulf Coast – makes predictions uncertain.
A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry group, said the industry is focused on “getting fuel where it’s needed most while ensuring the safety of the workforce.” ours” during the storm.
Spokesman Andrea Woods said: “Gasoline prices are determined by market forces – not individual companies – and claim that price at the pump is anything but a function of supply. and demand is untrue.
The storm is hitting the state with heavy rain and sending a devastating storm surge after reaching the threshold of the most dangerous Category 5 status. Ian rose to a catastrophic Category 4 storm overnight with peak winds of 250 mph (250 km/h), according to the National Hurricane Center.
Before traveling across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, Hurricane Ian tore through western Cuba on Tuesday, killing two people and knocking out the country’s power grid.
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Josh Boak and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
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