Bureaucratic Gas

I’ve got an article fresh up this morning in the Weekly Standard on how the Obama Administration could slice a dime or more off the price of gas–and shrink oil refiners’ profit margins at the same time (bonus if you’re a liberal!)–with one simple move: get rid of the boutique gasoline requirement of the Clean Air Act, which is nearly obsolete anyway as a smog-reducing measure.  Sample:

Thirty-four states use specially blended gasoline, usually during the summer, which is one reason gasoline prices always rise during the “driving season.”

If you want a good idea of why this makes no sense, meet me in St. Louis. St. Louis, Missouri, uses one kind of gasoline; East St. Louis, Illinois, right across the Mississippi River, uses a different blend. Meanwhile, the surrounding suburbs use a third kind. Same metropolitan area, different gasolines, and they can’t be sold across jurisdictional lines, so refiners and distributors must maintain three separate systems for the three parts of the St. Louis metro area.

The rest of the article explains why this all came about, and how bureaucratic inertia keeps it in place long after its utility reached its use-by date.

And while you’re on the Standard website (this week is a special energy issue) don’t miss my pal Robert Bryce’s article on how the new “clean energy standard” bill Democrats are pushing in Congress is just cap and trade by a different name. These guys never give up.


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