WISCREPORT.COM – In the wake of a government report that showed the national average price for gasoline rising for the eighth straight week, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl introduced legislation to have the federal government build oil refineries around the country, a move that would help stabilize the supply and lower the price of gasoline and heating oil across the nation.
“The price per barrel of oil, set by the Middle-east cartel OPEC, is only one factor that pushes up the price of gas and oil in our country,” Kohl said. “Refining capacity, the infrastructure that takes crude oil and turns it into gas, is down dramatically, which results in higher fuel prices for everyone.”
In 1981, there were 324 refineries in the United States; today, there are 149. The oil industry has not built a new oil refinery in the Unites States since the 1970’s. In 1985, refining capacity equaled daily consumption of petroleum products. By 2002, daily consumption exceeded refining capacity by almost 20 percent.
Kohl’s bill, the Strategic Refinery Reserve Act of 2007, would designate that forty percent of the production from these new facilities would support the day-to-day needs of the military, saving taxpayers from paying the oil industry’s inflated prices. The rest of the capacity would be available to keep gasoline flowing and prices stable in times of disaster or disruption.
“Big Oil has made it clear that they are unwilling to reinvest their record profits in new refineries, because the less they sell, the more they make per gallon.” Kohl said. “That may be good for oil company shareholders, and it may keep the executive bonuses fat, but it is bad for consumers.”
“Until we are able to transition to alternative energy sources, our country will rely on oil and gas. We can’t sit idly by waiting for that day to come.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday that drivers paid an average of $2.610 a gallon for regular gasoline last week, up from $2.577 the week prior. According to the report prices are now 11.2 cents per gallon higher than March of 2006 and all regions reported price increases.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has co-sponsored this legislation.