President Obama Opposed to High Gas Prices, Senior Democrats Ask CFTC Curb Speculators, EPA Releases Tier 3 Fuel Standards

In his first solo live press conference since November 2011, President Obama, made it clear that he is opposed to higher gasoline prices stating "I want gas prices lower because high gas prices hurt families".

Four Senior House Democrats Senda letter to Commodities Future Trading Commission on Gasoline Prices. Natural Resources Committee Ranking Democrat Ed Markey (D-MA), Financial Services Committee Ranking Democrat Barney Frank (D-MA), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler on Wednesday.  The foursome urged the CFTC to follow through on rules to establish position limits for speculators in energy markets – particularly in light of the recent increases in gasoline prices.  The legislators expressed concern that the CFTC has become timid in the face of litigation and pressure from Republican lawmakers.

EPA’s Air Chief Provides Preliminary Details of Forthcoming “Tier 3” Fuel Standards.  Responding to an inquiry by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and 67 other Members of Congress, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy provided details regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's  “Tier 3” emission standards for fuels and light-duty vehicles.  Ms. McCarthy clarified that EPA’s only planned change to gasoline standards is a potential reduction in maximum sulfur levels to 10 parts per million (ppm).  According to McCarthy, the more stringent sulfur standard would increase the cost of gasoline by approximately one penny per gallon by 2017.  She also noted that at least seventeen refineries around the country are currently capable of meeting the 10 ppm standard, and are already exporting such fuel to Europe.  The proposed Tier 3 standards are expected to be released later this month.