Entry for October 26, 2005: Refinery Welfare

Illustration from Dod.net 

Write your Senator on the Environment and Public Works Committee

Remember my entry on HB 3893?   Here’s what’s happening in the Senate.

The Republican Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, sponsor of the Senate refinery bill, SR 1772,  also introduced September 26, attempted to distance himself from the house measure at October 18 hearings before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which he chairs. 

 On October 26, before the Committee voted, the ranking minority member, Vermont independent JimJeffords, critiqued the Senate bill, saying, “I am not convinced, on the basis of hearing testimony last week, that permitting requirements under federal law are providing a serious impediment to refining capacity. And even if they were, EPA is working to implement the streamlined permitting authority for refinery projects contained in the new energy law Congress just passed… I believe that, not only should refinery projects be treated the same as other manufacturers, but that their record high profits could be invested in increasing capacity. But, as I highlighted at the hearing, I am most concerned [about] changes to the Clean Air Act…beyond those in our new energy law.

After a tie vote, thanks to Jeffords, all the Democrats on the committee  and Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Jeffords  added, “The defeat of this legislation today is a victory for public health and the environment. This bill would have weakened environmental regulations and dramatically changed the federal-state structure of judicial review established in our environmental laws, while doing virtually nothing to lower gas prices. If we are serious about addressing soaring gas prices we must promote conservation, boost the supply of clean fuels and protect the environment, measures included in an amendment I offered at the mark-up today. This legislation would not have helped our constituents suffering from higher prices at the pump, but it would have exposed them to increased pollution and threats to their health.”

After the defeat, Senator Inhofe complained, “I am disappointed that the Committee’s minority decided to play politics with the pocket books of the American consumer in rejecting the sensible provisions contained within the Gas PRICE Act…We intend to regroup and determine in short order what our next step will be to move the Gas PRICE Act forward. 

“During the meeting, I mentioned that one of the concerns we’ve been hearing about is the fear of a conference with the Barton Bill, which was actually referred to the Energy Committee.  While the Gas PRICE Act is not a companion piece to any legislation, I would emphasize again that the fear of a conference is no excuse not to legislate.” 

 

Here’s my letter to Virginia Senator John Warner

October 26, 2005

I am disappointed that Congress would use the tragedies of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to justify special favors to the oil industry.

I have read the hearing testimony of October 18 and am not convinced that federal permit requirements pose a serious impediment to refining capacity. And, if so, the EPA is working to streamline permits under the new energy bill just passed.  I cannot understand why refinery projects need special help, especially since  record-high profits could be invested in increasing capacity. And I am most concerned about further weakening of the Clean Air Act, beyond the new energy law.

I wish you had joined Senator Chaffee today in opposing S. 1772 in the Committee on the Environment and Public Works.  This bill would have weakened environmental regulations, changed the judicial review process and done virtually nothing to lower gas prices while increasing pollution and threatening our health.

Senator Inhofe, has stated that, “We intend to regroup and determine in short order what our next step will be to move the Gas PRICE Act forward.”

I am afraid that will truly be a step backward   Republicans for Environmental Protection has argued that “Congress should be helping Americans use energy more efficiently and speeding up fuel diversification. Instead, the House is planning to… endanger public health while doing nothing to lessen oil dependence.”

I agree.  I ask you as my Senator not to condone this corporate welfare measure.  Please vote against S 1772 in committee.

********    

 Senator John Warner sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and supported S. 1772.  You can write him at 225 Russell Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 or email him at enail him on this form at his website. 
 
 You can read testimony on the Senate bill online.  To track the bills, type  “H.R.  3893”  and “S. 1772” into the search box  of  Thomas, the Library of Congress’s legislative information site. 

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