Legislation Will Help Expand U.S. Refining Capacity and Create Job Opportunities
WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, with Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jim DeMint (R- S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), today introduced The Gas Petroleum Refiner Improvement & Community Empowerment Act (Gas PRICE ACT), which will provide incentives to build refineries at Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) sites through the Economic Development Administration (EDA), thus expanding refining capacity in the United States while creating job opportunities in areas where a military facility has been closed or designated for closure. Senator Inhofe and several co-sponsors issued the following statements:
Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman, Environment and Public Works Committee:
“The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita further emphasizes the need to address the weaknesses in our nation’s energy policy,” Senator Inhofe said. “This bill embraces President Bush’s proposal for building refineries on BRAC sites and will provide incentives through EDA which will, in turn, provide high paying jobs to the people who need them most. This is a winwin solution to a serious need. The Gas PRICE Act can go a long way in addressing the nation’s short-, mid-, and long-term fuels challenges. Furthermore, it does so by empowering local communities and States, establishing greater regulatory certainty without changing any environmental law, improving efficiency, and establishing a future for the use of ultra clean transportation fuels derived from abundant domestic resources."
Sen. Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman, Clean Air, Climate Change and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee:
“The fierce rise of gas prices resulting from the events of the last month have made it painfully clear how fragile our nation’s energy and economic security are. When a disaster hits, worries about gas prices and availability should be the last thing on the minds of those affected. I am pleased to join with Chairman Inhofe on this bill that attempts to revitalize the refining industry that has been dormant for 30 years. This vital piece of legislation responsibly addresses this issue and promotes job creation without eroding state rights or our environmental laws,” said Senator Voinovich.
Sen. Thune (R-S.D.), chairman, Superfund and Waste Management Subcommittee:
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks, America’s energy supply is one of our most vital yet vulnerable resources,” Senator Thune said. “Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita showed Americans across the country what happens when too much of our existing oil refining capacity is located in harm’s way. I believe that we must make a concerted effort to increase our nation’s domestic refining capacity—including the use of more ethanol—to ensure consumers aren’t faced with high fuel prices. I am proud to cosponsor the Gas PRICE Act—a common-sense measure that will reinvigorate America’s refining capacity, which has not seen a new refinery added to its ranks in roughly 30 years. By encouraging the creation of new refineries on military bases across the country that have been designated for closure, we are delivering a two-pronged solution to safeguard our nation’s energy supply against future threats or crises and create jobs for American men and women affected by military closures.”
Sen. DeMint (R-S.C.):
“We will never have energy independence without a strong and diverse refinery system,” said Senator DeMint. “We must have reliable refineries to convert oil to usable gasoline. As Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have painfully shown us, we cannot concentrate all of our refineries in one region.Now is the time to get serious about building new capacity in new areas of the country.”
Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska): “This bill, especially the additional assistance to help make Fischer-Tropsche fuel production cost effective, could prove vital to the nation. While we need new energy sources, we also need to expand refinery capacity. Utilizing America’s huge coal reserves to make aviation and diesel fuels, using a process that can almost eliminate pollution, while also allowing for the sequestration of carbon dioxide – removing it from the atmosphere -- is an exciting prospect both economically and environmentally,” said Senator Murkowski of the provision.
During a May 2004 hearing, the Environment and Public Works Committee learned that historic economic factors mixed with regulatory uncertainty have impeded new refinery construction. The EPW Committee has been reviewing those issues since, and Hurricane Katrina underscores the need to diversify the nation’s refining industry. This bill embraces President Bush’s expressed desire to consider current and former BRAC facilities for new refinery construction. The EDA, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is the civilian agency that assists BRAC communities transitioning to private use. Because refineries provide numerous high paying jobs that benefit the local communities and produce fuels that are in the national interest, the EDA should assist affected communities who consider new refineries.
In addition, the Gas PRICE Act addresses: • EPA Emergency Waivers and Boutique Fuels The supply disruptions caused by hurricane Katrina required EPA to issue fuel waivers to allow the use of conventional fuel in special or boutique fuel areas. The bill provides that states acting pursuant to an emergency will be held harmless under the law. Additionally, this legislation requires EPA to reduce the number of fuels that may be used in a Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) whenever the market/states de-select them.
• Development of Future Fuels The Gas PRICE Act requires EPA to establish a demonstration project to use Fischer- Tropsche (diesel and jet) as an emission control strategy; and authorizes EPA to issue up to two loan guarantees to demonstrate commercial scale F-T fuels production facilities using domestic petroleum coke or coal.
• Improved Efficiency The Gas PRICE Act requires the EPA’s Natural Gas Star Program to provide grants to identify and use methane emission reduction technologies.