Republican News

WASHINGTON, D.C. - “As Yogi Berra once said, ‘It’s like deja vu all over again. Last summer, motorists in the Midwest got a small taste of what consumers nationwide are likely to face this summer as a result of an increasingly Balkanized fuel delivery system,” said Chairman Frank H. Murkowski today during a hearing on fuel specifications and infrastructure constraints. This summer, a combination of circumstances are making it likely that consumers will face ever higher and more volatile prices at the gas pump. Robust demand, a plethora of fuel specifications and the lack of new refining facilities have all contributed to very tight gasoline reserves. “Part of the problem is that fuel made for consumption in Oregon is not suitable for California. Fuel made for distribution in Western Maryland cannot be sold in Baltimore. Areas such as Chicago and Detroit are islands in the fuel system and require special ‘designer’ gasolines. Just between Chicago and St. Louis, a distance of 300 miles, there are four different grades of gasoline required,” said Murkowski. “Refineries around the country, already unable to keep up with demand for product, must supply seasonal products for specific markets.” America’s refineries will be operating at 96% of capacity just to meet the nation’s summer driving needs. “Between 1990 and 1999, refining capacity actually increased in the U.S., from 15.9 million barrels per day to 16.4 million barrels today. But, during that same time, U.S. consumption went from 17 million barrels a day to 19.5 million barrels a day. U.S. refining capacity just is not growing as fast as demand. Clearly something is wrong,” Murkowski said. “If the U.S. is to have an energy policy that provides some certainty to the American consumers, our fuel delivery system cannot be viewed in isolation. We need a policy that takes into account our fuel standards and fuel availability, now and in the future,” said Chairman Murkowski. ###