By U.S. Representative John R. Carter
November 1, 2005
Each time I get the chance to talk with friends, neighbors and fellow citizens of the 31st District, it seems inevitable that the question is asked - "Why is the price of gas so high?" With all that happens in our world, the reality is, nothing hits closer to home than our pocketbooks. Each of us needs gasoline on a daily basis. We need it for work, driving the kids to school, and each of our day-to-day errands. Sadly, gasoline prices are reflected at the pump, but created at our refineries. Since 1976, little more than a game of politics has been done to place America on the right track.
As a nation we haven't made enough gasoline for ourselves in years. The reason is that while demand increased, no new refineries have been built to accommodate the growing need. Congress has been trying to tackle this problem since 2001, but some were not willing to put aside petty partisan politics. As it turns out, it took two massive hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, for some us to end this pattern of passivity and take hold of our nation's energy policy. The Gasoline for America's Security Act was debated and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in the weeks following the hurricanes. At that point, 11 refineries remained closed by high water and power failures, in turn, causing 18 percent of all U.S. gasoline production to be halted.
Americans deserve gasoline at prices they can afford. For Congress, it was time to do the right thing. Bureaucratic red-tape and special-interest roadblocks are not reason enough to deny relief at the pump for our families. For some, the sit-tight-and-blame-somebody-else approach would suffice forever. But pandering doesn't fill tanks with gas or keep money in pockets.
The Gasoline for America's Security Act is a multifaceted plan to reduce governmental regulation and to streamline the process of building refineries. Primarily it reforms cumbersome siting procedures for projects at the request of a state's governor or on federally designated lands. The president is required to designate sites on federal lands, including at least three closed military installations, which are appropriate for the site of a refinery.
Additionally, this legislation limits "boutique fuels" that have propped up gasoline prices by artificially limiting supply. The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under this provision, will identify six gasoline and diesel fuels for a Federal Fuels List, down from 17 listed today.
Lastly, this legislation includes the promotion of a public education plan that discusses conservation, works to effectively ban price-gouging in gasoline or diesel fuel sales, and will promote new pipelines to gain quicker access of crude oil and refined product to consumers.
Progress in the area of oil refining will be a step in the right direction to keep prices down at the pump for all Americans. After almost 30 years of inaction, it's time we create an environment that lessens the burden on building and maintaining our refining infrastructure. The House has done their part, now it's time for action in the Senate.