March 23, 2012 | Issue Brief on Energy and Environment
Congressman Ed Whitfield (R–KY) released legislation yesterday that would force the Obama Administration to reveal how its environmental regulations impact gasoline prices.
Specifically, the Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012 would create a Transportation Fuels Regulatory Committee consisting of officials from the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Commerce, Labor, and Treasury, plus representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the International Trade Commission, and the Energy Information Agency. The purpose of the committee would be to report on the full economic impact of a series of EPA actions on gasoline prices.
The legislation requires that the final report be completed within just over six months and places a freeze on related EPA action for another 180 days after that. By slowing the Obama regulatory juggernaut, the act gives both policymakers and the public an opportunity to fully understand the economic impact of pending regulations and adjust policy accordingly.
The Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012 has other benefits, such as:
Can Washington Lower Gas Prices?
Trying to get an answer to whether Washington can lower gas prices really depends on who you ask and when you ask it. It really comes down to what extent Washington is distorting the current marketplace. If Washington policy is artificially driving up costs through, for example, regulation or restricting supply, then it can help bring prices down by pursuing a more pro-supply, market-based agenda.
Today, the Administration restricts access to major portions of American oil by keeping parts of Alaska, the continental U.S., and much of America’s offshore assets off limits. There is simply no question that supply restrictions drive up prices. However, the question of regulation and how the Administration’s regulatory policies impact gas prices may not be as evident—at least not as it pertains to upcoming regulatory findings at the EPA. The Whitfield bill would help to answer that question.
Are They Doing All They Can?
The President, his Secretary of Energy, and many of his supporters insist that they are doing all that they can do to lower gasoline prices. Whitfield’s Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012 would help them to ensure that they are.
Jack Spencer is Research Fellow in Nuclear Energy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
The Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012, at http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/20120328/BILLS-112HR-PIH-gasprices.pdf?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2863 (March 23, 2012).
Nicolas Loris, “Gas Prices: Obama’s Half-Truths vs. Reality,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3514, February 23, 2012, at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/02/gas-prices-5-half-truths-about-rising-gasoline-prices.
Nicolas Loris and Curtis Dubay, “What’s an Oil Subsidy?,” Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 3251, May 12, 2011, at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/05/whats-an-oil-subsidy.