Focus Point - The High Cost of GasCommentary by Pete du Pont
June 27, 2001
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. In a classic piece of micro-managing, the 1990 clean air act mandated that gasoline sold in some states be "reformulated" with additives to reduce pollution.
The way it works, the government decides a certain area needs a different kind of gas from the rest of the country. Specialization costs extra in gasoline just as it does anywhere else.
But here's the catch: even environmental experts say it doesn't have any effect on pollution. What it affects is consumers' billfolds, and the effect is to lighten them.
California asked the government for a waiver, saying it could make cleaner, cheaper gas on its own without additives. Eight northeastern states wanted repeal, saying offering the tricked-up gasoline made gas more expensive for everyone.
So why keep the rules?
Because one of the prime additives is ethanol, and the ethanol subsidy to agribusiness giants will hit $600 million next year - some of which comes back to both parties in campaign contributions.
Think about that the next time you fill up with gas with additives you don't need.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, the war on SUVs.