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Biden says U.S. gasoline prices will drop after release of strategic reserves

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WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday touted his administration's international and domestic efforts to tackle inflation and high gasoline prices, promising Americans a drop in prices at the pump 'before long."

The Democratic president announced what he called the largest-ever release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to boost domestic supplies, in coordination with other countries. The White House is also probing possible illegal conduct by oil and gasoline companies that it says are keeping gas prices artificially high.

"I told you before that we're going to take action on these problems. That's exactly what we're doing," Biden said in remarks broadcast from the White House.

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"It will take time, but before long you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank, and in the longer-term we will reduce our reliance on oil as we shift to clean energy."

Biden's administration along with the Federal Reserve had described sharp spikes in inflation earlier this year as transitory, but pressure for action has grown as the price surges have continued into the fall.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month that U.S. consumer prices in October posted their biggest annual gain in 31 years, driven by large jumps in the cost of gasoline and other goods.


U.S. President Joe Biden announces the nomination of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for a second four-year term, and Federal Reserve board member Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Biden acknowledged the pain Americans were feeling, but said his administration was working to clear logjams in supply chains, speed up work at U.S. ports and work with retailers to ensure that store shelves were stocked with "everything from bicycles to ice skates" in time for the winter holidays.

The White House on Tuesday announced plans to release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with China, India, South Korea, Japan and Britain to cool prices after producers in the OPEC+ group repeatedly ignored calls for more crude.

Biden also took aim at companies that he said were making record profits while failing to pass savings along to consumers.

"If the gap between wholesale and retail gas prices was in line with past averages, Americans would be paying at least 25 cents less per gallon right now," he said. "Instead, companies are pocketing the difference as profit, and that's unacceptable."

Biden last week said there was mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies that is keeping fuel prices elevated, asking the Federal Trade Commission to dig deeper into possible "illegal conduct" in the market.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday also highlighted the administration's call for the Federal Maritime Commission to ensure free and fair competition and prevent "outsized profits" for ocean carriers, saying new data showed companies in that sector made nine times more in profits in the third quarter compared to last year.

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Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Andrea Shalal Editing by Heather Timmons and Paul Simao

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