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JEC Hearing Examines the Potential Impact on the American Consumer Due to Loss of Refining Capacity

Apr 26 2012

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Joint Economic Committee held a hearing exploring the impact of petroleum refinery closures serving the Northeast could have on prices at the pump in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Recent closures of three refineries serving these regions have decreased refining by 658,000 barrels per day, drastically cutting local production.

"With closure of the Northeastern refineries, refining activities will be centralized in the Gulf Coast region. This will affect the price of gasoline, diesel and heating oil and lead to potential shortages of those fuels in the Northeast. An early or prolonged cold spell next winter could send home heating prices skyrocketing – hitting consumers hard," said Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the JEC.

Southeastern Pennsylvania’s three refining plants represent more than half of the refining capacity in the northeastern United States. Idling the refineries could lead to economic hardship not only for the employees who would lose their jobs but also for those who might be impacted by rising oil prices.

Chairman Casey also expressed the need to find solutions that promote more domestic alternatives while lowering our dependence on foreign oil. The United States consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. U.S. dependence on oil to meet its transportation needs leaves consumers with few choices, making them vulnerable when oil and gasoline prices rise.

“By promoting policies that reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the U.S. economy and American consumers would be less vulnerable to spikes in oil prices. It’s clear that we need to accelerate natural gas development and use. It’s clean, with lower emissions than traditional gasoline. And it’s cheap. Natural gas is produced right here at home – creating jobs,” said Casey.

Click here to read Chairman Casey’s opening remarks.

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