In an effort to reduce the cost of gasoline, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski is teaming up with a Nebraskan congressman in reintroducing the Gas Accessibility and Stabilization Act in the House of Representatives. According to Walorski, this “commonsense” legislation will help to stabilize gas prices by allowing the EPA to waive fuel mandates. GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan agrees with the idea.
“It’s certainly a big step in the right direction. Politicians have long looked at price gouging and other factors behind gas prices, but I think this is the root of all evil here, is the fragmentation that exists with boutique fuels – that is, different cities, different counties, maybe utilizing and consuming different types of gasoline than other nearby cities,” said DeHaan.
The EPA currently requires different blends of gasoline to be sold in different parts of the country, and Walorski said that can complicate the supply chain and drive up prices when the supply of fuel is low – and that, she said, is exactly what happened in Indiana this summer.
“We had a couple of refineries down that literally fed the state of Indiana most of our gasoline. So when those kinds of things happen, or when you have weather or any kind of a disaster and you have areas go down or the supply is short or constricted, then there’s usually other blends of fuel available, which was the case this summer. But without allowing the EPA to have some flexibility to remove and to be able to provide some waivers around these different kinds of grades, then everybody is stuck and the price skyrockets because the demand skyrockets,” said Walorski.
Walorski believes that by expanding the EPA’s waiver authority, retailers will be able to use whatever fuel they have on hand during periods of supply disruption. This, she said, will help to reduce gas price spikes. If the EPA fails to respond to a community’s waiver request within three days, the act requires that the waiver be automatically granted.
In addition, the GAS Act would require the EPA, with the assistance of the Department of Energy, to conduct a study of the long-term impact EPA’s varied fuel blend requirements will have on gas prices, supply and reliability. This is the second time such an act has been introduced; the first act was supported by Senator Dan Coats.