If retail gasoline providers can charge consumers an additional $0.10-$0.50 per gallon of gasoline for paying with a credit card (some $0.88 per gallon more), then the federal government shouldn't be roasted for raising the federal gas take (presently at $0.184 per gallon) for the first time since 1993. I don't like the scenario any more than you do, but I'm trying to call it like it see it: This country needs to find ways to lower carbon output if we are going to meet 2020 carbon laws. Unfortunately, if the government drops the ball on extending the wind production tax credits which expire at year end, and the Megatons for Megawatts program with Russia also fades into the abyss over the same period, the U.S. government may revisit cap-and-trade or even go on a limb to stick consumers with higher gas prices in the hopes of deterring consumption.

With the EPA lowering the ethanol mandate for next year and the U.S. government moving forward with the Keystone Pipeline, the gas tax debate will certainly be one investors should not ignore in 2014. Despite the ethanol setback from the EPA, I still believe Valero (NYSE:VLO) is the best of breed when it comes to independent refiners and a name investors interested in refiners can't overlook, especially since the company has great margins on heavy oil, a strong presence in jet fuel (12% of domestic supply), and phenomenal ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel, which is becoming more popular here at home. 

John Licata has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow John on Twitter @bluephoenixinc. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.