FTC Response Indicates Active Discussion to Investigate Oil and Gas Industry for Price Gouging

March 21, 2022

(Washington, DC) – In midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and skyrocketing inflation and gas prices, the Federal Trade Commission may be months into an investigation of the oil and gas industry.

In November 2021, with gas prices and inflation already well on the rise, President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil and gas industry was illegally profiteering or price gouging customers.

In recent weeks, the President repeated his belief that the oil and gas industry may be price gouging or profiteering, this time citing the wartime circumstances. Whether this statement simply reflects broader opposition to the domestic oil and gas industry or an attempt to shift blame from the federal government’s role in driving inflation higher over the past year – gas prices at the pump have hit records highs and were on the rise before the war in Ukraine – the domestic oil and gas industry appears to be a constant bogeyman for the Biden Administration.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records around the President’s call to investigate the oil and gas industry, the Functional Government Initiative was recently denied all documents from the FTC. The FTC asserts that every record was part of a deliberative and pre-decisional process. FGI is in the process of appealing the decision. However, if the FTC is complying strictly with the requirements of FOIA regarding disclosing documents, it likely means there are active discussions to initiate an investigation or that an investigation has already begun.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“Attorney General Garland’s FOIA memo issued last week highlights the obligation of federal agencies to release all information that is not strictly protected under the law. Accordingly, FGI will be appealing the FTC’s decision to withhold all documents related to a possible investigation into the oil and gas industry. In the midst of record inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and after a year of shutting down pipelines and calling for a full transition away from fossil fuels, it rings a bit hollow that increased gas prices are anything but an intended result of the Administration’s current move away from energy independence. We will continue to seek access to records so the public can make up their own mind.”