Chevron CEO Mike Wirth calls on Biden to end hostilities towards Big Oil ahead of Thursday gas price showdown

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Chevron’s Chairman and CEO Mike Wirth on Tuesday responded to President Biden’s criticism of the oil industry, saying a change in the administration’s approach was needed to help combat rising fuel prices. 

In a letter sent to the president, Wirth said addressing the global supply and demand imbalances aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will require “thoughtful action and a willingness to work together, not political rhetoric.” 

FILE: Michael Wirth, Chairman and CEO Chevron Corp., speaks during an interview on CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 1, 2022. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo / Reuters Photos)

Wirth’s statement to the president came after Biden sent a series of letters to oil CEOs last week, threatening to use emergency powers if American oil companies didn’t increase output at their refineries. 

The president has repeatedly blamed the oil industry for record-high gas prices. During a speech in Los Angeles earlier this month, Biden said: “ExxonMobil Corp made more money than god this year.” At other times, Biden has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the rise in fuel prices.   

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Wirth told Biden that his evident hostility towards the oil industry was not helping matters, and urged the president to take a more collaborative approach. 

“The U.S. energy sector needs cooperation and support from your Administration for our country to return to a path toward greater energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental protection,” Wirth said, noting Chevron’s increase in production in recent years. 

“We need clarity and consistency on policy matters ranging from leases and permits on federal lands, to the ability to permit and build critical infrastructure, to the proper role of regulation that considers both costs and benefits,” Wirth said. 

President Joe Biden introduces his granddaughter Natalie Biden, left, to the members of the media as they walk on the beach together with daughter Ashley Biden, right, in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Monday, June 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Newsroom)

He added: “Most importantly, we need an honest dialogue on how to best balance energy, economic, and environmental objectives – one that recognizes our industry is a vital sector of the U.S. economy and is essential to our national security. We can only meet these challenges by working together.” 

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is expected to meet with oil industry executives on Thursday to discuss ways to reduce high energy prices. Wirth encouraged Biden to send one of his senior advisors to the meeting “so they too can engage in a robust conversation.” 

“The American people rightly expect our country’s leaders and industry to address the challenges they are facing in a serious and resolute manner,” he said. “We are a willing partner in that endeavor and trust your Administration will be the same.” 

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Chevron joins other oil giants that are pushing back against the Biden administration’s hostilities toward the industry. Last week, in response to Biden’s letter, ExxonMobil fired back at the president’s allegations, saying it had invested $118 billion on new oil and gas supplies over the past five years, compared to a net income of $55 billion – resulting in an almost 50% increase in its U.S. production of oil during that period. 

Gas prices began rising shortly after Biden took office and issued energy-related executive orders, one of which canceled the Keystone XL pipeline which would have delivered about 870,000 barrels of Canadian oil per day to refineries in Texas.