Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray published an editorial in Real Clear Politics on March 13, suggesting one simple solution to rising fuel prices—passing the Next Generation Fuels Act. He writes,
The Next Generation Fuels Act – a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois – would eliminate these barriers and bring American fuel policy into the 21st century. It works by raising minimum octane ratings – which Mercedes-Benz has noted is “the single most important property of gasoline when determining engine design” – to levels that both automakers and fuel manufacturers agree are technologically and economically feasible.
The editorial contends that raising current artificially low octane levels fits well with President Biden’s plans to boost fleetwide fuel economy. Gray explains,
Even with sales of electric vehicles doubling in 2021, they still accounted for less than 4% of new vehicles sold and 1% of vehicles on the road. Raising octane levels would improve the efficiency of the other 99% of existing cars immediately, sometimes by as much as 5%. The benefits for new cars would be even greater, as much as a 10% fuel efficiency improvement. And because ethanol is typically less expensive than both gasoline and aromatic additives, increased use of ethanol will also lower the price you pay at the pump per gallon. Indeed, widespread use of low-level blends of ethanol as an aromatic replacement has saved American drivers on average 68 cents per gallon of gasoline over the last decade.
The full editorial, entitled High-Octane Solutions to the New Energy Crisis, is available here.
Amb. C. Boyden Gray served as White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush and as Ambassador to the European Union and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy under President George W. Bush.