Skip to content

Amid Rising Energy Costs, Senator Hassan Calls for Action to Address Big Oil’s Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices

The Senator Raises Concerns that Bad Actors Could Take Advantage of Russian Invasion to Raise Prices Further

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is calling for additional actions and updates regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) oversight of anti-consumer trade practices in the oil and gas industry, particularly given that bad actors may take advantage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to manipulate oil and gas prices. The Senator’s letter to the FTC builds on her efforts to lower gas prices for Granite Staters and Americans.

 

“I write today to urge you to take additional action to address rising energy costs that American families and small businesses are experiencing even as large oil and gas companies reap record profits,” Senator Hassan wrote. “Big oil and gas corporations continue to increase prices for consumers at the pump, while engaging in stock buybacks and fighting to keep tax breaks that force taxpayers to subsidize their record profits. Those practices, coupled with Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unconscionable invasion of Ukraine, could result in further increases to American households’ energy bills.”

 

Last November, President Biden requested that the FTC investigate whether oil and gas companies are engaging in anti-consumer behavior, and noted in his letter that prices at the pump have remained high amid record yearly profits for oil and gas companies. Senator Hassan’s letter asks for an update from the FTC about that request, as well as about any other subsequent or related consumer protection activities. The letter also calls for the FTC to closely monitor the impacts of the Ukraine conflict on oil and gas markets and take additional steps to target anti-consumer behavior.

 

Senator Hassan continued, “It is critical to Granite Staters’ pocketbooks, our continued economic recovery, and our global competitiveness that energy markets are free from manipulation or potentially illegal conduct. I request that you provide an update on any potential or ongoing Federal Trade Commission inquiry into the types of conduct referenced in the President’s November 17, 2021 letter to you, closely monitor the effects of the Ukraine conflict on oil and gas markets, and take additional action to address unfair or deceptive trade practices in the oil and gas industry.”

 

Senator Hassan is working across the aisle to bring down energy costs for Granite Staters, and recently introduced legislation to lower high gas prices by temporarily suspending the federal gas tax through the end of the year. Additionally, Senator Hassan successfully called on the Biden administration to take action to help lower energy costs by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Senator previously led an effort urging the administration to release oil from the Reserve last November, which the administration subsequently did.

 

Read the Senator’s full letter here or below:

 

Dear Chair Khan:

 

I write today to urge you to take additional action to address rising energy costs that American families and small businesses are experiencing even as large oil and gas companies reap record profits. Big oil and gas corporations continue to increase prices for consumers at the pump, while engaging in stock buybacks and fighting to keep tax breaks that force taxpayers to subsidize their record profits. Those practices, coupled with Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unconscionable invasion of Ukraine, could result in further increases to American households’ energy bills.

 

High energy costs hurt families’ pocketbooks and create a drag on our economic recovery. I urge the Federal Trade Commission to closely monitor big oil and gas companies’ practices amid the conflict in Ukraine and take action to ensure that no companies are taking advantage of Putin’s aggression to manipulate oil and gas prices and harm American consumers. It is vital that big oil and gas companies do not unfairly exploit market conditions, backslide on commitments to invest in green and renewable energy, or engage in anti-competitive behavior.

 

Last year, President Biden urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.” The President’s letter noted that “the two largest oil and gas companies in the United States […], are on track to nearly double their net income over 2019.” Since that letter was sent, major oil and gas companies’ profits have continued to soar and many have announced their intentions to buy back multi-billion dollar amounts of their shares. In addition, the invasion of Ukraine has caused volatility in the global oil market, which could lead to further increases in U.S. oil prices. Therefore, it is especially important that consumer protection agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, target any efforts by bad actors to hurt consumers.

 

It is critical to Granite Staters’ pocketbooks and our continued economic recovery that energy markets are free from manipulation or potentially illegal conduct. I request that you provide an update on any potential or ongoing Federal Trade Commission inquiry into the types of conduct referenced in the President’s November 17, 2021 letter to you, closely monitor the effects of the Ukraine conflict on oil and gas markets, and take additional action to address unfair or deceptive trade practices in the oil and gas industry.

 

###