WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, 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.
“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 win-win 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.”
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.