So the EPA proposed a new rule on Friday requiring lower sulfur emitting fuels by 2017. Advocates lined up on the usual sides. Environmentalists support a proposal they believe will reduce these emissions. Auto makers support the proposal because cleaner fuels will allow the catalytic converters to operate better without costing them a dime.
Oil companies and refineries oppose the changes. They argue that the proposal makes refining more costly. Those costs will be passed to the consumer. Both sides agree that the new rule will make gasoline more expensive. The argument is over how much. Environmentalists put the increase at a penny. Oil companies and refiners say nine cents.
One thing not discussed is what impact the proposed changes will have on the Keystone XL Pipeline. I think the sulfur emission proposal brings Keystone XL one step closer to reality. If President Obama is going to approve the pipeline, tightening other environmental regulations could be the spoonful of sugar that makes makes that bitter medicine of more tar sands oil go down in a more delightful way.