by Mia DiFelice
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Food & Water Action’s website (our affiliated organization).
Gas prices have been top-of-mind and top-of-newsfeed for months now, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supply shocks in the wake of the pandemic shook up the market. More recently, international oil cartel OPEC+ announced plans to lower production to keep prices high.
But few outlets have pointed to one of the key drivers of our pain at the pump — greedy oil and gas corporations that would rather send our supply abroad for maximum profit than serve customers at home.
Our researchers have dug through the data, and we’ve found damning evidence of corporate greed. Oil and gas companies have been exporting historically high amounts of finished gasoline, squeezing domestic supply and sending high prices even higher.
But now, Rep. Rho Khanna (D-CA) has introduced new legislation to end gasoline exports.
Our Gasoline Export Boom is No Coincidence
Our latest analysis shows that in the first six months of 2022, gasoline exports jumped nearly 9% compared to the first six months of 2021. And 2021 was already a huge year for gasoline exports. The U.S. exported over 12 billion gallons, 1.5 billion more than 2020. That gasoline could have fulfilled the needs of 30 million American drivers for a whole year.
These exports put pressure on our domestic supply of gasoline. Because of the supply squeeze, corporations can boost prices — and profits. Shell’s profit margins from refining alone have tripled in this year’s second quarter, to the tune of billions of dollars. Chevron and Exxon’s refining profits have also surged by the billions since this time last year.
In October, the U.S. Department of Energy pointed out that these profits are possible because gasoline companies have failed to manage their domestic supply. But while we suffer at home, those very same companies are exporting gasoline at historic levels.
This is only the latest in a long line of corporate greed that takes advantage of crises for profit, while hurting workers and families. In the past few years, lying meat corporations have hidden behind the pandemic to price-gouge us at the grocery store. Meanwhile, fracked gas companies jumped on Europe’s energy crisis to build out polluting infrastructure in our communities.
Without government action, we can’t expect corporations to give up on their dirty tactics.
We Can Lower Gas Prices By Banning Gas Exports Now
Political pundits have taken the Biden administration to task for not drilling. But not only did Biden ramp up drilling well before our gasoline price hikes — this false claim distracts from the real issue of gasoline exports. Moreover, more drilling for crude won’t help gasoline supplies when refineries are already running on all cylinders.
Over the past few years, Food & Water Watch has thrown a spotlight on the role of corporate greed in rising prices. This week, we finally have action in Congress. The Gasoline Export Ban Act, introduced by Rep. Khanna, would require the president to ban exports when gasoline prices rise above $3.12 for one week.
Today’s gas prices show yet again that corporations can’t be trusted to keep the interests of their customers in mind. Rather, they’re happy to pursue any path that will bring them more profits. We need the Gas Export Ban Act to reign in Big Oil and lower the prices on this essential fuel for working families.
Ask your Congress member to support the Gas Export Ban!