Bingaman on OPEC and Outages

March 31, 2004
10:17 AM
Here is Sen. Bingaman’s reaction to the main energy stories of the day -- OPEC’s decision to cut oil production and refinery outages: "OPEC’s decision today is a major setback for our nation. I don’t know what actions the White House took to forestall this decision. The Administration did not want to be public about it. It’s clear that whatever those actions were, they were not effective. OPEC will cut production beginning tomorrow. "In my letter to the President last week I outlined 13 steps the Administration can take now, without any additional legislative authority, to combat high energy prices. Chief among these was to press OPEC to increase oil supply. I believe that the President should continue to press OPEC nations to increase oil production and not gouge U.S. consumers. The Clinton Administration effectively used Bill Richardson as a high-level envoy to these countries. "Another one of my recommendations to the President was further underscored today by two fires at U.S. refineries -- at a BP facility in Texas City and at the Rosemount facility in Minnesota. Markets reacted immediately on this news. NYMEX gasoline contracts reached a record high. "As I noted in my letter to the President, we need to develop a national fuels strategy that simplifies the number of formulations of gasoline and increases refining capacity. Although the President’s Energy Plan in 2001 highlighted the need to address refining bottlenecks, this Administration has taken no major action since. When gasoline prices are at record highs, and refineries are at nearly 100% capacity, the Administration needs to identify the barriers preventing new refinery construction and give Congress a plan for how to overcome them."

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