As Gas Prices Surge, Biden Asks F.T.C. to Investigate – The New York Times

President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to consider whether “illegal conduct” by large oil and gas companies is pushing up gasoline prices for American consumers, the latest effort by the administration to target concentration in the energy industry in a bid to bring down prices at the pump.

The move is unlikely to spur immediate action by the F.T.C., which has the power to break up large industry players, and it is unlikely to affect gasoline prices materially any time soon.

But it could spur the commission to open an investigation to gather data on how companies set gasoline prices, which could be used in future enforcement actions.

Mr. Biden’s letter to Lina Khan, the antitrust champion he appointed as chair of the commission, claims “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.” The president noted that prices at the pump have risen even as the costs of refined fuel have fallen and industry profits have gone up. The two largest players in the industry, ExxonMobil and Chevron, have doubled their net income since 2019, he wrote, while announcing billions of dollars in plans to issue dividends and buy back stock…