President Biden, who is contending COVID-19, made brief, unscheduled remarks Friday afternoon about his administration’s efforts to reduce record-high gas prices and increase U.S. oil production.
Biden, who tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday and is experiencing mild symptoms, appeared virtually for an unscheduled briefing with his economic team Friday.
“Let me start by apologizing, my voice, I’m feeling much better than I sound,” the president, who coughed multiple times during the appearance, said.
“We have some really good news. Gas prices are coming down,” he continued. “In fact, gas prices fall every day this summer for 38 days in a row.”
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Biden said Americans now “can find gas for $3.99 or less at more than 30,000 gas stations in more than 34 states.”
“We’ve been working really hard to bring the price down,” he said.
Biden, referring to his order to release 1 million barrels a day of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve per day, said he “led the world to coordinate the largest release of oil reserves in history, including from other countries.”
“In total, more than 240 million barrels to boost global supply,” Biden said.
Biden said that he has also been “working to increase U.S. production,” saying the U.S. is “producing 12 million barrels per day and we’re on track to hit record highs.”
“I’ve been working to make sure that when the price of oil comes down, the price at the pump comes down as well—it comes down in real time,” he said.
Biden said, “The good news is that’s happening, but it’s not happening fast enough.
“We made progress, but prices are still too high,” Biden said, stressing that his administration is looking for ways to “increase oil production from the existing wells and permits that exist today.”
“The industry has more approved programs for production on federal lands than they can possibly use,” Biden said, pushing back at GOP criticisms that his administration is not approving new land permits fast enough.
Biden, delivering a “message” to oil companies said: “Use the permit or lose that. Don’t say we can, you don’t have access.”
Biden also said companies are “making record profits” due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
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“Use those profits to increase production and refining,” he said. “Don’t use those profits to buy back your stocks and dividends.”
Biden also said allies and partners agreed at the G-7 summit last month to “keep supply up and Putin’s revenues down in the days and weeks ahead.”
“I’m going to keep doing what I can to bring down the price of gas at the pump. But the real answer is to get to a clean energy economy as soon as possible, turn this into something positive,” Biden said.
“That’s how we protect the climate and create jobs,” Biden said, noting that he will “have a lot more to say about this in our discussions and more in the coming days.”
The White House physician said Friday that President Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms “have improved” but shared that he had a fever Thursday night.
The president’s physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said the president “completed his first full day of Paxlovid last night.”
“His symptoms have improved,” O’Connor said, noting that the president “did mount a temperature yesterday evening to 99.4°F, which responded favorably to acetaminophen (TYLENOL).”
“His temperature has remained normal since then,” O’Connor said. His symptoms remain characterized as rhinorrhea (‘runny nose’) and fatigue, with an occasional non-productive, now ‘loose’ cough.
“His voice is deeper this morning. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation remain entirely normal, on room air,” O’Connor said.
“There has been nothing in the course of his illness thus far which gives me cause to alter that initial expectation,” O’Connor said, adding that “early use of Paxlovid provides additional protection against severe disease.”