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Kohl Calls for Energy Independence, Increased Reserves

Location: Washington, DC


Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) today called for the creation of a federally owned and operated oil refinery in a letter to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee tomorrow will begin considering legislation to add more refining capacity in the U.S..

In a letter, Kohl outlined the problem faced by shrinking reserves resulting in high energy costs. "When supply runs low, everyone from seniors citizens trying to stay warm to... the megacorporations rebuilding the Gulf Coast must pay what the market demands for fuel - there are no substitutes for petroleum products."

Kohl's proposal would authorize the Secretary of Energy to build a refinery to supply the government's own needs, as well as add to strategic stockpiles to increase the supply of refined petroleum products available, lower and stabilize prices and ensure an adequate supply of fuel in the event of future natural disasters or increased demand.

Current fuel shortages have led to price spikes felt across the nation. During the 1980's and 1990's there were significant refined oil reserve capacity. However since 1981, when 324 refineries existed with a capacity of 18 million barrels per day, refinery and reserve capacities have shrunk dramatically. Today there are a mere 149 refineries in the U.S. with a capacity of 16.9 million barrels per day, desperately low to meet growing demand.

"Today, our economy is left in a precarious situation where natural disasters can threaten our prosperity, and that," said Kohl, "is unacceptable."

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