In January 2011, a barrel of crude oil cost $85, and gasoline prices averaged $3.15 per gallon. Today, a barrel of crude again costs $89 per barrel and a gallon of regular gas costs $4.21 per gallon on average.
It’s not a matter of supply and demand that consumer gas prices are so high: the fuel supply to US refineries has been steady for months, with refineries along the Gulf coast only shutting down due to the lack of demand caused by the pandemic last year. (One major Texas refinery shut down in February because of cold weather in Texas that the state’s power grid could not compensate for, thanks to Republican Governor Greg Abbot’s administration.) Nor is it a matter of dramatically more expensive processing costs.
So what’s causing the inflated gas prices at the pump impacting family budgets? As CNN reports, House Democrats passed a bill authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to investigate reports of price gouging by oil companies, who enjoyed a healthy profits in 2021: ExxonMobil made $23 billion in 2021; Chevron, $16 billion; and BP, $13 billion.
Joined by four Democrats-Kathleen Rice of New York, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Jared Golden of Maine and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas–every member of the GOP voted against the bill to hold oil companies accountable for unethical business practices and potential collusion.