Monday, April 16, 2012

Let's Abolish the Boutique Gasoline Regime


"Quick: How many kinds of gasoline do we use in America? Most people would say three or six: regular unleaded, mid-grade, and premium, along with the ethanol blends of the same that have become nearly universal. The actual number is somewhere above 45, though hard to pin down exactly, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It might even be closer to 70. Thirty-four states use specially blended gasoline, usually during the summer, which is one reason gasoline prices always rise during the “driving season.”

Is this a conspiracy of the evil oil companies to fatten their margins? Mostly no: It’s the product of EPA bureaucrats and the Clean Air Act, stubbornly maintained even though boutique fuels now deliver only marginal reductions in air pollution from cars, if any at all. And it’s a regulation President Obama could clear away if he wanted to. It wouldn’t deliver a large reduction in gasoline pump prices, but even 10 to 15 cents a gallon—a plausible figure for California’s market—would help.

Here’s an opportunity for President Obama to “do something” about gasoline prices, even if it’s only by a dime per gallon. (And the difference between $4.95 gas and $5.05 gas might be the difference between reelection and defeat.) The Clean Air Act allows the EPA to waive the boutique gasoline requirements in the event of supply disruptions or shortages. Indeed, the boutique gasoline requirements were waived in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, when more than half the Gulf Coast refineries were knocked out of commission for several weeks. During the waiver, we imported gasoline from overseas to fill the gap, and prices were kept stable. There was no noticeable uptick in ozone levels in the EPA data. While high-priced gasoline might not meet the precise definition of a disruption or shortage, it shouldn’t be a problem for the clever lawyers of the Obama administration to come up with a plausible legal rationale for suspending the regulations.

Failing that, the House should pass a quick amendment to the Clean Air Act abolishing the boutique gasoline regime, and then dare the Senate or the president to block a measure that would offer relief at the pump this summer. The ethanol lobby would scream, along with environmentalists who never met a regulation they didn’t like, while refiners would quietly rue the loss of an artificial market-segmenting system that expands their profit margins. Sounds like a win-win all the way around."

45 Comments:

At 4/16/2012 8:08 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Why chip around the edges?

Let's cut straight to the heart of the problem and abolish the EPA...

 
At 4/16/2012 8:13 AM, Blogger Ironman said...

The difference between election and defeat would appear to actually be between $3.50 and $3.60 per gallon. For the last two years, that's the level at which the employee retention decisions of employers, as reflected by the rate of layoffs (as measured by seasonally-adjusted initial unemployment insurance claim filings), would appear to be affected by high oil and gasoline prices.

At this writing, this year appears to be no different, although I'll have more on that next week....

 
At 4/16/2012 8:14 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

I agree this is an easy fix that would make very little difference in air quality.

Can the president change those rules without legislation?

 
At 4/16/2012 8:18 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

http://www.examiner.com/ecopolitics-in-los-angeles/epa-at-40-pros-and-cons


"After 40 years of EPA environmental controls and successes, America leads the world in environmental protection. So, we should concede that our environmental regulatory system is complete, and that most pollution problems are solved, or are under active management. "

 
At 4/16/2012 8:25 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Well...that's an interesting fact of the day. I always thought there were only 3 types of gas (I thought ethanol was mandated in gasoline). But 45-70? Wow...

 
At 4/16/2012 8:41 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

The number of different blend is crazy. Anyone know the history of how so many became mandated?


How much is (ostensibly) science based, and how much is special interest?

 
At 4/16/2012 8:52 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey hydra, thanks for the link to Paul Taylor's commentary...

Not bad dude, not bad at all...

The best part though had nothing to do with Taylor's very good commentary but with a link to a story of a Georgia teen just wanting to have some fun...

Now that was funny!

 
At 4/16/2012 9:24 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

The number of different blend is crazy. Anyone know the history of how so many became mandated?

From my understanding, the CAA amendments in the 1990's called for "cleaner" fuel sources, such as CNG, ethanol, etc to be developed used in vehicles. I'm guessing over the years as these alternative fuel sources became more producable, the EPA and/or state governments started mandating them.

 
At 4/16/2012 10:24 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Requiring boutique blends are decisions made by the citizens of the states which have them - decisions made either directly or through their elected officials.

As far as I am concerned, the federal government has no business getting involved in laws made by states about what goods and services are permissable in a state. That's true for health care services and it's true for gasoline.

Of course, the Supreme Court has allowed a liberal interpretation of the Commerce Clause to continually increase the power of the federal government. Abolishing the right of states to set their own environmental regulations would be just one more step.

 
At 4/16/2012 10:56 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

As I recall... California wanted to have stricter CAFE standards than the Feds wanted and the Feds denied them.

California also wanted to require the disclosure of how much mercury was in seafood and the Feds - with help from industry lobbyists shut that down also.

Midwest states don't like tighter emission standards but it's the states to the east that get the pollution.

Pennsylvania, West Va could pollute the hell out of the Ohio River and would not care since it flows downstream.

At some point - even the states themselves want the Fed to call the shots - at least on some things.

 
At 4/16/2012 11:13 AM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Congressman Roy Blunt [MO] has introduced legislation to that effect going back to 2005, but nothing has come of it.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/business/1620809/blunt_reintroduces_bill_to_help_lower_price_of_gas/

Too many special interests.

Forbes had this to say recently:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/04/03/ethanol-minus-the-corn-it-could-fuel-america-if-it-werent-illegal/

It's been a pet peeve of mine for quite awhile.

 
At 4/16/2012 11:20 AM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

"There was no noticeable uptick in ozone levels in the EPA data."

Like that matters. These standards have nothing to do with the environment.

 
At 4/16/2012 11:36 AM, OpenID moneyjihad said...

Re: juandos

...and abolish the Dept. of Energy.

 
At 4/16/2012 11:38 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Abolishing the right of states to set their own environmental regulations would be just one more step.

==================================

Except individual states do not have their own environment. Air and water are surely involved in interstate commerce.

 
At 4/16/2012 12:58 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

hydra: "Air and water are surely involved in interstate commerce."

If you want to get extreme, you could claim that every molecule on earth will eventually find its way into every state. So any action which uses molecules could be regulated under that interpretation.

 
At 4/16/2012 1:13 PM, Blogger Ed R said...

Calif and the DC area (and quite possibly others) have much lower air pollution now during the warm summer months because of EPA science-based regulations that have been in effect for at least a decade.

Does Prof. Perry prefer more summer air pollution in large metropolitan areas??

 
At 4/16/2012 3:15 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Calif and the DC area (and quite possibly others) have much lower air pollution now during the warm summer months because of EPA science-based regulations that have been in effect for at least a decade.

That is, of course, assuming there is causation in this correlation.

 
At 4/16/2012 4:06 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Juandos: "The best part though had nothing to do with Taylor's very good commentary but with a link to a story of a Georgia teen just wanting to have some fun..."

Interesting. There's no indication whether the acts were consensual, or if perhaps the doggies seduced the poor boy.

 
At 4/16/2012 4:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Except individual states do not have their own environment. Air and water are surely involved in interstate commerce."

And the US does not have it's own environment. Air and water are surely involved in international commerce.

Try to find a better argument for central planning.

 
At 4/16/2012 4:14 PM, Blogger Cooper said...

So I checked with an Air Quality conformity co-worker today to see what he thought. Surprisingly he said the EPA has just recently ( i got the feeling last week) talked to their working group to stop using summer blend gasoline in emission budgets. He thinks since it was the EPA who approached them it would be going nationwide. They are targeting phase out by summer 2013 but because of inter-agency review it could be summer 2014 before we use normal gas year long.

A little background on summer blend. Gasoline evaporates very readily. As temperature increases and pressure decreases (like moving from winter to summer) it evaporates more readily. This means that during the summer, gasoline will evaporate from people's cars and hang in the air, queue smog and haze. This use to be a big concern because cars were not 100% sealed. Many of the pipes and such could hold liquid gasoline, but were permeable to vapor gas. Over the years materials have gotten better so not there is practicably no leakage from vehicles, so changing gasoline produces no real air quality improvements. Thank God for technology.

 
At 4/16/2012 4:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon M: "That is, of course, assuming there is causation in this correlation."

Uh-oh. You can't question such statements when the term "science based" is invoked. :)

 
At 4/16/2012 6:24 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Uh-oh. You can't question such statements when the term "science based" is invoked. :)

The second someone has to qualify a statement I call shenanigans. :)

 
At 4/16/2012 11:31 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

And the US does not have it's own environment. Air and water are surely involved in international commerce.

Try to find a better argument for central planning.

==============================

I think you just made one.

Anyway, tha fact that the US may be involved in international agreements is no reason the US cannot control the pollution at the state level.

 
At 4/17/2012 5:41 AM, Blogger Ed R said...

"Science-Based"??

Read it for yourselves --

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2374

 
At 4/17/2012 6:47 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

"Science-Based"??

Read it for yourselves -


No one's denying, Ron, that the EPA doesn't use science in their procedure. But simply saying something is scientifically based does not make it true or good. Just because these regulations are scientifically based does not mean they caused the amount of pollution to decline. There needs to be some causation for this correlation.

Don't forget, it was once scientifically based that leeching would cure illnesses. We now know that, while there were some cases of correlation between leeching and recovery, there was no causation.

That's all I am saying: correlation is not good enough to prove anything. There must be causation, too.

 
At 4/17/2012 10:24 AM, Blogger Abir Mandal said...

Hydra: So according to your logic we should turn over regulation to the UN.

 
At 4/17/2012 12:12 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

So according to your logic we should turn over regulation to the UN.

==================================

I never suggested any such thing. Don't put words in my mouth.

Assume you have some global poblem, (some kind of pandemic super polio, or something) for which the solution is known, but the solution only works if everyone participates.

What would be your suggestion for implementation?

 
At 4/17/2012 12:15 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

correlation is not good enough to prove anything. There must be causation, too.

==================================

Nonsense.

There are plenty of correlations for which we have no understanding of the underlying causation, if any.

Nonetheless, the correlations are strong enough to bet money on, without any knowledge of causation.

 
At 4/17/2012 12:31 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

"According to a not-especially-surprising study, trust among conservatives in the validity of science is at an all-time low. The data, collected by researchers at UNC Chapel Hill, indicates just 35% of conservatives classify themselves as having "a great deal of trust in science," a steep drop from a reported 48% in a 1974 poll."

================================


Science based, or correlation without causation?

 
At 4/17/2012 12:37 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Only 6% of academia is Republican.

=================================

Measurable scientific fact, or correlation without causation?

 
At 4/17/2012 12:51 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Nonsense.

There are plenty of correlations for which we have no understanding of the underlying causation, if any.

Nonetheless, the correlations are strong enough to bet money on, without any knowledge of causation.


Wow...really?

All due respect, Hydra, but this is Stats 101 stuff.

Let me give you an example:

In 2009, the New York Yankees moved into a new stadium. The number of home runs hit increased. Therefore, the stadium increased the number of home runs hit.

That is a nonsense conclusion. There is no evidence of causation in that sentence.

In 2009, the New York Yankees moved into a new stadium. This new stadium had smaller dimensions than the old one. The number of home runs increased. Therefore, the stadium increased the number of home runs.

This is a logical conclusion. The causation (smaller dimensions) holds the correlation to be true.

The main difference between something that has a causal correlation and a coincidental correlation is duplication. If we reproduce the experiment multiple times, will we get the same or similar results? In my Yankee Stadium example, you will. In regards to the EPA, without further evidence, I don't think you will. For example, Massachusetts has it's own version of the EPA at the state level. New Hampshire does not. New Hampshire has much cleaner air, water, and land. So, it cannot just be the agency that causes these things. There must be other factors (population? Economy? Demographics? Trade Routes?).

 
At 4/17/2012 4:04 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Interesting. There's no indication whether the acts were consensual, or if perhaps the doggies seduced the poor boy"...

ron h did you also note there were not 'Sandra Fluke like rantings' by the alledged victims of this randy Georgia teen?

 
At 4/17/2012 4:07 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"...and abolish the Dept. of Energy"...

Absolutely moneyJihad...

 
At 4/17/2012 5:56 PM, Blogger Abir Mandal said...

Hydra: "I never suggested any such thing. Don't put words in my mouth."

Did you not say that water and air being international entities was argument for central government? Hmm, what central international govt can you think of?

 
At 4/18/2012 1:40 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon M:

"No one's denying, Ron, that the EPA doesn't use science in their procedure..."

You probably meant to address Ed R with that comment. I know, we look a lot alike. :)

 
At 4/18/2012 1:42 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Ed R

Well yes, thanks for the link. This a fine example of "science based" regulation.

"In the face-off between California and Corn Belt states over ethanol, California lost again this month. Federal officials concede that the corn-based fuel additive can increase smog and soot pollution from vehicles. But in a ruling shocking in its disregard for public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused for a second time to scrap the rule requiring California to blend ethanol in its gasoline."

 
At 4/18/2012 1:46 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Anyway, tha fact that the US may be involved in international agreements is no reason the US cannot control the pollution at the state level."

I guess that depends on whether you are talking about actual pollution, or that just silly CO2 stuff.

 
At 4/18/2012 1:56 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"There are plenty of correlations for which we have no understanding of the underlying causation, if any."

I'll say. Global warming is one of those things, but rather than just noticing the interesting correlation, some people want to take action for no good reason, without understanding that causation. That is a recipe for disaster.

"Nonetheless, the correlations are strong enough to bet money on, without any knowledge of causation."

That is not a rational thing to do, and can in fact be very dangerous.

 
At 4/18/2012 2:03 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I never suggested any such thing. Don't put words in my mouth."

It's easy enough to follow the logic. If state isn't good enough, national is better. If national isn't good enough, global is better, and who better to deal with global issues than the UN?

The UN has proven to be dysfunctional in pretty much every other endeavor, but odds are that they will succeed at *something* eventually, don't you think?

 
At 4/18/2012 2:05 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

You probably meant to address Ed R with that comment. I know, we look a lot alike. :)

Haha sorry about that Ron. I'm used to responding you you :-P

 
At 4/18/2012 2:07 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"According to a not-especially-surprising study, trust among conservatives in the validity of science is at an all-time low. The data, collected by researchers at "UNC Chapel Hill, indicates just 35% of conservatives classify themselves as having "a great deal of trust in science," a steep drop from a reported 48% in a 1974 poll."

================================

Science based, or correlation without causation?
"

Merely an observation of a change over time. Nothing of any consequence. Don't put words in their mouths.

 
At 4/18/2012 2:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"New Hampshire has much cleaner air, water, and land. So, it cannot just be the agency that causes these things. There must be other factors (population? Economy? Demographics? Trade Routes?)."

The reason is that there is more individual liberty in NH, of course. "Live free Or Die".

:)

 
At 4/18/2012 2:25 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

"Live free Or Die".

I've only lived here for about a year, but I've learned this: Live Free or Die isn't a motto; it's a challenge.

 
At 4/18/2012 2:37 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos: "ron h did you also note there were not 'Sandra Fluke like rantings' by the alledged victims of this randy Georgia teen?"

No, but now that you mention it...

That's one reason to suspect that they aren't, in fact, victims at all.

I suppose dogs aren't all that interested in birth control, as they may not have the ability to connect the cause and effect of two events separated by a relatively long period of time.

Humans, on the other hand, have the ability to connect things that can't possibly be related.

I believe dogs live simple, uncomplicated lives, and are therefore untouched by some of the problems people suffer, due to excessive thinking.

It appears that dogs are guided by one simple principle, and that is, if you can't eat it or eff it, p**s on it.

 
At 5/12/2012 9:44 AM, Blogger Flogistix said...

I think natural gas is the safest way to use as a gasoline. . . but that was only my opinion. .
vapor recovery unit

 

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