Don’t like the price at the pump, blame a democrat.
Democrats Attack Bill to Boost Refineries
Oct 07 11:10 AM US/Eastern
By H. JOSEF HEBERT
Associated Press Writer
A new Republican-crafted energy bill, prompted by the hurricane devastation and high fuel prices, came under sharp attack Friday from Democrats who called it a sop to rich oil companies that would do little to curb gasoline or natural gas costs, while hurting the environment.
Supporters argue the measure is needed to spur construction of new refineries. The House was expected to vote on it later in the day.
In an attempt to ease approval of the bill, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, removed a particularly contentious provision Friday that would have implemented clean air regulation changes long sought by the Bush administration. It would have allowed not only refineries, but also coal-burning power plants and other industries to expand and make changes without adding pollution controls even if emissions increase.
Still, Democrats and a few Republicans lambasted the legislation as debate opened on the House floor.
It does nothing to curb oil use by requiring more fuel efficient cars or promoting alternative energy sources, said Rep. Edward Markey, D- Mass. He called it “a leave-no-oilman-behind bill.”
Attempts to add requirements that automakers increase vehicle fuel economy and a measure aimed at producing more natural gas were thwarted by GOP leaders who strictly limited the ability by lawmakers to amend the bill.
“Natural gas is an issue this (Congress) needs to deal with,” said Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., who was prevented under House rules for the bill from offering a proposal that would have opened offshore natural gas resources to drilling.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita shut down more than a dozen refineries and disrupted natural gas supplies. Gasoline prices soared and huge increases in heating bills are expected this winter for users of both gas and fuel oil.
Barton says vulnerabilities in the fuel supply system exposed by the hurricanes show that the country needs to build more refineries, especially away from the Gulf Coast region. No refineries have been built in the United States since 1976 as the industry has consolidated to fewer, but larger facilities.
The GOP legislation also would limit to six the different blends of gasoline and diesel fuel that refiners would be required to produce, reversing a trend of using so-called “boutique” fuels to satisfy clean air demands. And it would give the federal government greater say in siting a refinery and pipeline. It also calls on the president to designate military bases or other federal property where a refinery might be built.
“The bill weakens state and federal environmental standards … and gives a break to wealthy oil companies while doing little or nothing to affect oil prices,” Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., said in a letter Thursday to colleagues.
With prices soaring, “oil companies now have all the profits and incentives they need to build new refineries” without government help, he maintained.
Barton countered that it will give industry more “certainty” that a refinery project will not be delayed “without lessening any environmental law now on the books. … The bill sets in motion a chain of events for lowering gas prices for Americans.”
Among the groups trying to kill the bill were the National League of Cities, nine state attorneys general, most environmental organizations and groups representing state officials in charge of implementing federal clean air requirements. They said the bill would hinder their ability to ensure clean and healthy air.
Environmentalists also have argued that the limit to six gasoline types could jeopardize the requirement for use of low-sulfur diesel fuel. The low-sulfur diesel regulations have been touted by the Bush administration as one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s most significant accomplishments.
In 1981, the United States had 325 refineries capable of producing 18.6 million barrels a day. Today there are fewer than half that number, producing 16.9 million barrels daily. Still, refining capacity has been increasing, though not dramatically, for the last decade. Imports have made up the difference as demand has continued to increase.