Today, Representatives Tim Walz, Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, and Rick Nolan announced the introduction of legislation to help prevent future spikes in gas prices like Minnesota saw earlier in May. The legislation would require refineries to report their maintenance schedules to the Department of Energy, helping to prevent coinciding closures and avert future gas shortages and price spikes. The legislation mirrors a bill introduced by Senators Klobuchar and Franken in the Senate.
"While Congress can't dictate the price of fuel, we can put measures in place to help prevent fuel shortages that can lead to price spikes," Rep. Walz said. "This is one of those measures. By ensuring refineries are proactively communicating their maintenance schedules with the proper authorities, we can prevent simultaneous refinery shutdowns and protect hardworking Minnesotans from arbitrarily paying more at the pump. This is just common sense."
"Improving coordination of refinery outages is a logical step in preventing painful spikes in gas prices," Rep. Peterson said. "Hopefully we can get a little more control of gas prices by taking these measures to better schedule and coordinate these outages."
"The excessive volatility of gas prices is causing real economic stress on Minnesota families," Rep. McCollum said. "This legislation will make sure that consumers will not be gouged by price spikes whenever a refinery decides to close. Congress needs to protects consumers and markets from malicious trading practices."
"In the middle of an economic recovery, spikes in gas prices hurt working Minnesotans hardest," Rep. Ellison said. "We owe it to the people of Minnesota to do everything we can to reduce their pain at the pump and wean ourselves off foreign oil. At a bare minimum, Minnesotans should be able to count on refineries to communicate about shutdowns. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this common-sense measure."
"It cannot be perceived as coincidence that every year at this time, as Minnesotans plan their summer vacations and northern Minnesota camping, fishing and hiking weekends, the price of gas spikes accordingly," Rep. Nolan said. "This bill is a common sense step that should encourage oil companies to better coordinate their refinery shutdowns, keep prices down and help middle class families stay within their budgets during our busiest travel seasons."
The legislation would require refineries to report to the Department of Energy their schedule for maintenance that would bring any refineries off line. The bill would also require refineries to immediately tell the Department when they are experiencing unplanned outages. Finally, the bill asks the Secretary of Energy to look at the potential for additional fuel storage in the region to address the low storage capacity that makes the region especially vulnerable to shortages.