Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet The Press this Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich attempted to shift blame away from oil companies for rising gasoline prices. Asked by host David Gregory how he would attack President Obama given positive news about the economy, Gingrich falsely claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to “raise the price of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon”:

His policies have consistently, I think, weakened the country. He has an Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would raise the price of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon. There are very few Americans who want to see the price of gasoline raised by government to 25 cents a gallon.

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Gingrich’s claim was generated last July by the oil industry’s lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute (API). On behalf of API, oil industry consulting firm Baker & O’Brien analyzed a proposal by the auto industry’s lobbying arm, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, for “a single national (excluding California) summertime gasoline specification that they referred to as National Clean Gasoline.”

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, their proposed National Clean Gasoline standard would cost about 1 to 5 cents per gallon, while cutting smog and other air pollution by 10 to 20 percent. The oil-approved Baker & O’Brien study argued — using a proprietary and opaque methodology — that the proposal “could boost the cost of making gasoline by up to 25 cents per gallon and could shutter up to seven U.S. refineries.”

The EPA has been working on a plan to require cleaner new passenger vehicles and cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline — a move that could cost less than a penny a gallon. Reducing the sulfur content of gasoline would make every catalytic converter on the road today more effective. Every car in America would emit fewer smog-producing emissions. In fact, reducing sulfur is the single quickest and most effective step that EPA could take to reduce smog levels from coast to coast.

In summary, Gingrich’s claim that the EPA has a proposal to raise the price of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon ignores a number of facts. The proposal to which he’s referring came from the auto industry, not the EPA. The charge that the auto industry’s clean-gasoline proposal would increase prices by 25 cents per gallon is based on an oil-industry study that gave costs five times higher than other analyses. The EPA’s actual proposal for cleaner gasoline would have significant health and economic benefits for Americans with minimal effect on gas prices.

(h/t Frank O’Donnell)