Many are blaming the oil industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the government for high gasoline prices, alleged refinery shortages, and the twice-a-year gas-grade switch.
The gas-grade switch does contribute to higher summer prices, but the change is caused by the seasonal need for a change in vapor pressure. In winter, gas needs to be more volatile in order to start in cold weather, so it contains more low-cost volatile butane. In summer, we “back out” the butane. Otherwise, the fuel could build pressure in fuel tanks and gas cans, and it would boil off lighter components in open containers. Removing the cheap butane reduces the amount of gas and raises its cost.
Other new regulations are adding to gas cost by cutting the allowance of polluting sulfur in gasoline, adding to refinery expense.
There is no refinery shortage. Upgrades and expansions of existing refineries have added about 2 million barrels per day to U.S. refining capacity in recent years, equaling several new refineries.
I suggest the last thing we need is lower gas prices, more driving, and more traffic jams. Cheap gas discourages use of energy-efficient public transport and increases pollution. The average personal car adds 5 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually, along with other pollutants.
Let’s not blame the oil industry, government, or anyone else. Just look directly into your car’s rear view mirror.
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