President Joe Biden told U.S. oil refiners that unprecedented profit margins are unacceptable and called for "immediate action" to improve capacity as the soaring price of gasoline feeds record inflation and fears of a recession.

"At a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable," Biden said in a letter sent Wednesday to top oil companies. Biden said his administration was prepared to take any "reasonable and appropriate" steps that would help companies increase output in the near term, and said he's ordering Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to hold an emergency meeting on the subject in the coming days.

The president added that the federal government will open talks with the National Petroleum Council—an advisory committee representing the industry—and called on companies to provide the Energy Department with an explanation of why they have cut capacity and what could be done to address gas prices that now average more than $5 per gallon nationwide.

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