A new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association finds the Renewable Fuel Standard’s compliance credit market mechanism, known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), has no impact on retail gasoline prices. The analysis finds that while RINs are a factor in wholesale gasoline prices, there is no evidence that RIN costs have any measurable effect on the retail prices paid by consumers.
RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman found that, not surprisingly, the main driver of recent higher retail gas prices is higher crude oil prices. He calculates that retail gasoline prices have had a correlation of 0.96 with West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices on a monthly basis from January 2013 to July 2021 (with 1.00 representing a perfect correlation and 0.00 representing no correlation whatsoever). Meanwhile, there has been essentially zero correlation (-0.05) between gasoline prices and the prices of RINs. The new analysis is consistent with similar studies conducted by Informa in 2015 and 2017.
“Higher gasoline prices this summer were caused primarily by OPEC+ oil production cutbacks and an increase in gasoline demand,” writes Richman. “Additionally, supply issues such as the Colonial Pipeline shutdown and refinery closures due to Hurricane Ida accentuated price pressures at times. RINs are a convenient target for accusations since they are not widely understood, but as the analysis confirms, RINs do not contribute to higher retail gasoline prices.”