Decreasing Our Unhealthy Dependence on Gulf States, Foreign Oil

The Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act legislation addresses the basic fact that our nation's demand for refined products outstrips supply by a growing margin due to the lack of domestic refining capacity, which has led to the predictable result of higher and higher prices for all Americans. An uncertain and disorganized system of regulations and approvals has strangled the planning of all new refineries since 1976. A growing shortfall increases our reliance on imported refined products and causes prices to rise accordingly. This legislation will streamline a badly disjointed approval process and assist local, state, and federal officials in untangling the confusing and sometimes contradictory regulations and permitting required by various regulatory agencies. A primary goal of the legislation is also to promote new biofuel and petroleum refineries being constructed outside of the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, half of all our domestic refinery capacity is concentrated in the Gulf States, a region too vulnerable to natural disasters. That in turn puts the U.S. energy security at risk and causes periodic supply disruptions and price increases. Simply expanding our current refineries fails to address this concentration and indeed makes it worse. Moreover, such expansion only increases our over reliance on crude oil as a feedstock. Constructing new refiners in other regions provides needed geographic distribution and also creates the opportunity to utilize locally available biomass and other renewable fuel feedstocks. Our agricultural and forestry resources are currently sufficient to sustainably displace more than one third of our transportation fuel needs, and we should support domestic supply over protecting the import-dependent status quo.

We need to improve the current system that has led to tight supplies, high prices for consumers, a risky concentration of capacity in the Gulf region, and an over dependence on foreign crude oil.