An expert on energy markets has warned that gas prices would jump almost immediately if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were to grant Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s request for a partial waiver of the renewable fuels standard.

“Our analysis shows that $5 gasoline will just be the beginning,” energy market writer and publisher Tom Waterman said. “Prices in California within one month would reach $5.75/gal. and head to $6/gal. by summer’s end. The rest of the country will follow.”

“U.S. refiners would suddenly be faced with finding roughly 1.6 million barrels or 68 million gallons of gasoline per day immediately,” Waterman added. “These events are definite if the EPA acts.”

Waterman has been writing about oil, gas, electricity and renewable fuels as a reporter, editor and publisher for 23 years. He launched and publishes Btu, one of the leading sources of information in the natural gas and electricity markets, and the most widely distributed electronic information and market intelligence product in the market. Waterman also started a daily wire service and weekly petroleum publication known as MarketWire, and launched the weekly publication The Ethanol Monitor in 2005, which has quickly emerged as one of the most innovative and comprehensive publications in the field.

Waterman’s insight presents the corollary to what many have recognized, the fact that corn-based ethanol has helped keep gasoline prices from being even higher, by reducing the amount of petroleum needed in the United States. According to the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University, the growth in ethanol production has caused retail gasoline prices to be lower (up to 40 cents/gal.) than would otherwise have been the case.