Oil executives to visit White House for emergency meeting on gas prices

NORWOOD, Mass. — Happening Thursday, the Energy Secretary is set to meet with oil executives at the White House to try to figure out how to lower gas prices. This comes a day after the president announced he wants to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax to ease pain at the pump.

A little help overnight with AAA reporting the average price of gas went down another two cents with the average $4.97 a gallon in Massachusetts. The federal gas tax would take off 18 cents a gallon for the next three months, but a lot of congressional leaders say that doesn’t save a lot and it doesn’t address the root of the problem.

That’s why the White House is coming up with other possible solutions. The Energy Secretary will be meeting with seven oil executives that President Biden sent letters last week urging them to boost the supply of gas and diesel fuels. Oil companies claim they are producing as much as they can, with Chevron’s CEO saying he wants more clarity and consistency from the Biden Administration and is looking forward to today’s meeting. After Biden proposed his three-month gas tax suspension plan, several lawmakers spoke out against it, saying it only addresses the demand problem.

“We have a supply problem that needs to be dealt with if you want to get prices down, so it doesn’t deal with the problem,” said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

“I want to get more data on whether this kind of savings would actually be passed on to consumers,” said Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia. “I’ve seen other states do this, but I don’t think the data reflects that the consumers benefit.”

Following the president’s announcement yesterday, Governor Baker said he supports passing legislation to suspend the state’s 24-cent gas tax. He said the state has a balanced budget and a surplus in tax revenues, so there is more than enough funding to hit the pause button on the gas tax. But Democratic leaders are not on the same page. House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said they fear a gas tax holiday would result in billions in profits for oil companies and only pennies in savings for consumers.

In a joint statement, they said, “This isn’t fair, and we are not interested in benefiting multinational corporations while our residents continue to feel pain at the pump. The legislature is working diligently to find ways to deliver direct relief to residents, and we will continue to prioritize solutions that put people first.”

Governor Baker has introduced a $700 million dollar relief package to help those struggling the most. He continues to ask the legislature to act on that before they break for the summer.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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