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Inhofe Continues Fight to Bring Down Gas Prices
May 22, 2008

Contact:

 

Marc Morano 202-224-5762

marc_morano@epw.senate.gov

Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797

matthew_dempsey@epw.senate.gov   

 

 

Inhofe Continues Fight to Bring Down Gas Prices

“The simple fact remains, until we explore and develop domestic energy resources and increase domestic refining capacity, the cost of gas at the pump will increase. Now is not the time for politics as usual – now is the time for common sense solutions.”


WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today joined in a colloquy with Senators Allard (R-CO) and Stevens (R-AK) regarding the need to develop domestic energy resources and increase domestic refining capacity in order bring down the high price of gas at the pump. Videos of the colloquy will be available shortly to view on the Inhofe You Tube channel.

“Faced with skyrocketing gas prices and national economic insecurity, many Oklahoman and American families will be forced to think twice about travel plans this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer,” Senator Inhofe said. “Hopefully after this holiday, after enough Senators have heard from outraged constituents about the high price of gas at the pump, there will be enough political pressure that we can finally get Congress to agree to start drilling in ANWR, drilling offshore, drilling in the shale area and experimenting in some of these areas where we can become totally self-sufficient in America.

“One of the major hurdles to bringing down the price at the pump is to increase domestic refining capacity. To address this glaring need, I introduced legislation to improve and streamline the permitting process for the expansion of existing and new refineries in each of the past two Congresses.  In fact, I offered this common sense legislation as an amendment to the energy bill last year.  Unfortunately, the amendment failed 43-52 without a single Democratic member voting for the amendment. Today as gasoline prices continue to rapidly increase, the question remains, how much higher will gas prices need to go before we act?
 
“The simple fact remains, until we explore and develop domestic energy resources and increase domestic refining capacity, the cost of gas at the pump will increase. Now is not the time for politics as usual – now is the time for common sense solutions.”

 

Senator Inhofe Floor Remarks

As Prepared for Delivery


Mr. President, I come to the floor to discuss gasoline prices.  We are nearing the Memorial Day holiday weekend and the beginning of the summer driving season.  Families from Oklahoma and from the rest of our states will be driving to vacations spots while paying record gasoline prices to get there.
 
I have spoken on the Senate floor now several times about the need for increased energy supplies. Senate Republicans have offered legislation which seeks to increase supplies through exploration and production in ANWR and offshore.  
 
We must not rely on unstable parts of the world for its energy. Instead it is crucial not only for gasoline prices but for the national security of this country that we increase production at home.
 
Our constituents voted us in to our offices to represent their interests, and when they are unhappy we too are unhappy.  One issue that certainly makes all constituents unhappy or even angry is high fuel prices. Therefore, policymakers at all levels of government have been struggling with ways to address high prices – some have advocated for enacting new taxes on the energy industry and launching new investigations into gouging. The result of which does nothing to reduce the price of a gallon of gasoline.  
 
One of the critical hurdles is increased refining capacity. But investments into increasing refining capacity have been inadequate to meet demand, and no new domestic refinery has been built since 1976.  
 
In the previous Congress and this Congress, I have introduced my “Gas Petroleum Refiner Improvement and Community Empowerment Act” or simply the Gas PRICE Act (S. 1503) to improve and streamline the permitting process for refineries.  
 
In fact, I offered this legislation as an amendment to the energy bill last year. The amendment failed 43-52. Not a single Democratic member voted for the amendment.  However, I would like to think with the continual rise in gasoline prices, my colleagues may like to reconsider their vote.
 
My Gas PRICE Act (S. 1503) streamlines the permitting process for refineries.  It would allow for a consolidated permitting process for new refineries in which EPA would be required to either approve or disapprove of the project within 360 days for new refinery applications or 120 days for refinery expansion applications.
 
It encourages communities who have lost jobs as a result of BRAC to consider building refineries on those properties. The legislation directs the Economic Development Administration to provide additional resources to communities considering new refineries on those sites.  Refineries are not just a good source of high paying jobs, but they are an area of national interest so those communities acting in that interest should be benefited.
 
States have a significant if not dominant role in permitting existing or new refineries.  Yet, States face particular technical and financial constraints when faced with these extremely complex facilities. So my Gas PRICE Act requires the Administrator to coordinate and concurrently review all permits with the relevant State agencies to permit refineries. This program does not waive or modify any environmental law, but seeks to assist States and consumers by providing greater certainty in the permitting process.  
 
Of course, Congress should have taken many actions in anticipation of the current refining capacity crunch over last several years. Yet, as I indicated earlier, elected officials in large measure react to the will of their constituents.  The good news is that we are not too late to make sure that the economy-wide stifling high prices are only temporary.  
 
The Gas PRICE Act empowers local communities and States, establishing greater regulatory certainty and improving efficiency.
 
The need to increase our refining capacity is part of the Domestic Energy Production Act that Senator Domenici and so many of my Republican colleagues and I have sponsored.  Not only does it address refining capacity, it allows for sensible drilling on ANWR and allows individual States to decide if drilling should be permitted in their offshore waters.
 
Senate Democrats have voted against ANWR at least nine times in the last five years.  In fact, President Clinton hadn’t vetoed legislation 10 years ago allowing environmentally sensitive exploration on the Coastal Plain of ANWR, today America would have 1 million additional barrels of oil a day coming from ANWR. That’s American oil not foreign imports.
                       
Oil and gas exploration and production is currently prohibited on 85 percent of America’s offshore waters.
 
Yet, Canada allows offshore drilling in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes. Additionally, Cuba is also looking to expand drilling which could occur within 45 miles of parts of Florida and with technology that is much less environmentally sound than that used by American companies.
 
The U.S. must allow greater energy supply to meet our increasing demands. Republicans are offering that in increased American based supplies and increased refining capacity.

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