Gas Tax Holiday Would Increase Prices, Hess CEO Says

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden by Al Drago/Bloomberg News

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President Joe Biden’s plan to suspend the federal gasoline tax would only make things worse for U.S. drivers, one industry CEO said ahead of a meeting in Washington between oil executives and administration officials.

“The gasoline tax holiday would actually increase demand at a time when inventory is already tight,” John Hess, CEO of Hess Corp., said June 23 in an investor presentation. “The key to getting oil prices under control is to grow inventory; you only do that by increasing supply and tempering demand.”

Biden has called on the oil industry to tame gasoline prices and is asking Congress to pause the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal tax and 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax, though lawmakers are unlikely to heed his request. The administration also has weighed limiting crude exports from the U.S. Oil executives are pushing back, with Chevron CEO Mike Wirth urging a “change in approach” from the White House. Wirth is one of several CEOs gathering with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on June 23.

“These two ideas that the government has — either to ban crude oil exports or to have a gasoline tax holiday — actually are going to make the market tighter,” Hess said. “It’s going to drive prices up, not drive them down.”

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