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Biden pushes back after Chevron CEO says oil industry vilified: ‘He’s mildly sensitive’

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Chevron CEO Michael Wirth seemed insensitive to criticism from the White House.

Asked to comment on a letter in which the oil executive said the Biden administration has sometimes vilified the industry and in which Wirth called on the White House to change its approach, Biden replied: “He is slightly sensitive. I didn’t know they would be hurt so quickly.

The president also seemed hopeful: “We should be able to find a way to increase refining capacity and not give up on the transition to renewable energy.

Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is set to meet with the CEOs of major refiners on Thursday as high gas prices continue to weigh on Americans. The president last week called CLC companies,
-4.35%
intensify their refining and criticized their profit margins.

Biden also offered signs on Tuesday that he could support the suspension of the federal gas tax, as he answered a reporter’s question about how a gas tax exemption would make it difficult payment for major infrastructure projects.

“We have a lot of capacity to do that,” Biden said, referring to funding road construction.

Following those signals, the White House said Wednesday morning that the president was actually calling on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months. A speech on the matter is scheduled to be delivered at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

See: Biden unlikely to get congressional approval for gas tax waiver, analysts say

Biden’s remarks to reporters on Tuesday came after he delivered a speech about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5. US health officials on Saturday authorized an extension to young children.

“Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and let’s be clear: elected officials must not get in the way and make it difficult for parents who want their children to be vaccinated and who want to protect them and those around them. Now is not the time for politics,” Biden said during his speech.

This appeared to be a reference to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, potentially Biden’s challenger in the 2024 White House race. DeSantis spoke out against vaccinating younger Americans, contradicting what has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and other authorities. Florida was also the only US state not to pre-order doses for very young children.

See: COVID vaccines for children under 5 – what parents need to know

Also: The United States will begin vaccinating very young children this week, and a panel will recommend an overhaul of the health care system

It’s easy to imagine that many of the youngest children won’t be vaccinated, given that less than a third of children ages 5 to 11 in the United States are fully immunized after being eligible for vaccines in November.

With their latest approvals, regulatory agencies have backed jabs developed by Moderna MRNA,
+4.68%
and by Pfizer PFE,
+2.00%
with German partner BioNTech BNTX,
+0.33%
for children from 6 months to 4 years old.

This is an updated version of a report that was first published on June 21, 2022.

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Post expires at 11:14pm on Saturday July 2nd, 2022