The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells us today that Roy Blunt is proposing legislation, his aptly named, Gas Act, that he thinks will help stabilize rising gas prices. His solution? Gut Clean Air Act requirements that lead different regions to tailor gas mixtures in ways that lessen local air pollution.
The problems with this proposal are obvious – especially to those of us who live in or around St. Louis, which was recently ranked as one of America’s ten most toxic cities by Forbes Magazine. It’s worth noting here that The East-West Gateway Council credits some recent improvements in regional air quality in part to the use of cleaner fuel.
Nevertheless, Roy Blunt thinks we should sacrifice air quality to save a few cents at the pump – a solution, given our global oil situation, that will never achieve more than temporary results anyway. Another sad aspect of Senator Blunt’s proposal is that it doesn’t even sit that well with oil producers. The Post-Dispatch quotes David Sykuta, executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Council, as saying:
He (Blunt) is correct in saying that if you just suspend the special fuels program, it would lead to a little bit cheaper gas, …
But you have to have some long-term predictability in our industry. If you start changing it all with political science rather than real science, you can run into problems.
Actually, I’m not even sure it’s good political science. Particularly since there’s another solution that is almost guaranteed to have a real effect – the problem is that it runs counter to Blunt’s anti-regulation religion.
Seems that much of the problem with oil prices can be traced to speculation rather than actual shortages. This problem would respond to a firmer regulatory hand at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a stance that would be in line with powers granted by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. However, according to Think Progress:
Unfortunately, opposition from the commission’s Republicans – and one Democrat, Michael Dunn – has so far prevented the CFTC from acting to regulate dangerous speculation on gasoline and other commodities. But Dunn’s term is ending this summer. The White House told the Ed Show it is “vetting” replacements – but would not say if they’re looking for a nominee that favors rules to curb excessive speculation.
So can we all contact Senator Blunt and tell him “no, thank you” as far as his new legislation goes, and then ask him if he will support a CFTC commissioner candidate that will allow the commission to do what it is supposed to do and what we want it to do? Surely he will be happy to learn that he needn’t sacrifice his constituents health to get lower gas prices – just a little of his oil-industry fueled anti-regulatory fervor.