With gas prices at $5 a gallon, Biden tells oil companies to cut costs for Americans

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President Joe Biden told oil producers on Wednesday to immediately cut costs for Americans as gas prices exceeded $5 a gallon in some parts of the country.

Biden in a Wednesday morning letter to the heads of top oil and gas companies said Russia's war against Ukraine is only partly responsible for the "sharp rise in gasoline prices" and asked them to work with his administration to increase the supply of gasoline to Americans.

"There is no question that Vladimir Putin is principally responsible for the intense financial pain the American people and their families are bearing," Biden wrote, "But amid a war that has raised gasoline prices more than $1.70 per gallon, historically high refinery profit margins are worsening that pain."

It was the White House's latest effort to demonstrate to Americans that Biden, who lacks the authority to enforce the directive to oil executives, is working to reduce elevated levels of inflation. The annual inflation rate climbed by 8.6.% in May, according to the consumer price index report released last week.

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Biden last year directed the Federal Trade Commission to investigate oil and gas companies for high prices. That was before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

He sent individual letters on Wednesday to executives with Marathon, Valero, ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Chevron, BP and Shell asking them to explain their actions and urging them to come up with solutions to increase gasoline supply.

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"I understand that many factors contributed to the business decisions to reduce refinery capacity, which occurred before I took office," Biden said. "But at a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gas prices: Biden tells oil execs to cut costs for Americans