US House narrowly passes bill on refining, pipelines

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 10 -- The US House of Representatives passed the Energy and Commerce Committee's refining and pipeline bill Oct. 7 by a two-vote margin (OGJ Online, Oct. 4, 2005). But as members headed to their home districts for a week-long Columbus Day recess, it was still not clear how much effect the measure will have.

Proponents said HR 3893, the Gasoline for America's Security Act, would reform cumbersome siting procedures by requiring the Department of Energy to coordinate refinery permitting—but only if a state's governor requests the process or if the US president designates the site as potentially suitable for a refinery.

"In 1981, there were 324 operating refineries in the boundaries of the United States. Today there are 148. Do the math. There are a lot of reasons for it, but one of the reasons is the law as it exists today," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.). "What company's board of directors in its right mind would want to go through this complicated process and tie up billions of dollars for years and years if they weren't certain whether this process would wrap up in a timely fashion?"

The bill did not include a provision addressing the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program under the 1977 Clean Air Act amendments. Electric utilities, as well as oil refiners, had sought reforms to clarify the process.

"Initially, we took the administration policy and put it in the bill just to clarify and give certainty to the industry on what they could and couldn't do," Barton said. "But I have agreed to do hearings in committee, and go through the regular process, and bring it to the floor later this year as a stand-alone bill or as a part of another piece of legislation."

NPRA response
National Petrochemical and Refiners Association Pres. Bob Slaughter said he was disappointed that the NSR provisions had been removed.

"We realize that the expedited schedule of this legislation did not leave time for adequate discussion of this crucial and complex language," he said in a statement following the bill's passage. "Nevertheless, we believe that the NSR reform effort retains wide majority support on Capitol Hill."

He did not address a provision that would require the president to designate sites on federal land, including at least three closed military installations, as possibly appropriate for refineries or that would allow the president to permit operation of refineries to manufacture oil products for the armed forces.

Slaughter also did not comment on a provision that would require the Environmental Protection Agency administrator to identify six gasoline and diesel formulations for a federal fuels list, reducing the number from its current level of 17.

He did call the bill "essentially a policy statement that increased petroleum product supplies and more domestic refining capacity are in the public interest and should be encouraged, rather than discouraged."

Slaughter said the House's passage of the bill "marks another stage of progress in America's growing realization that improvements in the nation's energy infrastructure and increased supplies of domestically produced gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and home heating oil are a crucial element in maintaining the nation's global leadership and economic security."

Other parts of the bill would try to reform siting and construction procedures for pipelines and expansions and encourage prompt construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the Lower 48 states. The Alaskan pipeline provision includes a loan guarantee sunset provision if the state of Alaska and participants don't reach an agreement on constructing the system within 2 years of enactment.

The bill also would require the US energy secretary to study whether essential crude oil and product pipelines have backup power to continue operating if their regular sources are cut off. It also would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to regulate gas gathering lines on the Outer Continental Shelf.

A provision that would have lifted offshore moratoriums and withdrawals for natural gas had been moved into the bill from a measure passed a week earlier by the Resources Committee (OGJ Online, Sept. 29, 2005). It was deleted during floor action.

Democrats critical
Resources Committee Democrats reiterated their charges that the bill was hastily conceived and moved to the floor without adequate consideration of the issues. "We have had no hearings on the specific measures before us; in fact, major changes in language were revealed late last night," ranking minority member John D. Dingell of Michigan said as debate got under way. "We have not received a single response to questions we asked of the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. We do not know whether the provisions in the energy bill passed less than 2 months ago to expedite refinery siting are working. We do not know what these new provisions on refinery siting will do."

Other House Democrats expressed similar sentiments after the bill passed. "Sadly, in a display of total incompetence, the Republican leadership in the House barely passed another bill today that will do nothing to improve America's energy independence," declared Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). "Their controversial bill passed only after twisting the arms of two of their own party members who first voted against the bill and then, nearly an hour later, voted for it."

Miller added, "This bill, and the process by which it passed, is a disgrace."

Twelve Republicans and independent Bernie Sanders from Vermont joined Democrats in voting against the bill. As the week-long break began, it was not certain how the Senate would respond, although the Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a full hearing for Oct. 18 on the winter fuels outlook.

Barton said that the House Energy and Commerce Committee would hold hearings after the recess to examine infrastructure needs in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

Related Articles

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

Keyera to take majority interest in Alberta gas plant

12/12/2014 Keyera Corp., Calgary, will pay $65 million (Can.) to buy a 70.79% ownership interest in the Ricinus deep-cut gas plant in west-central Alberta.

PBF Energy, PBF Logistics make management changes

12/12/2014 Matthew Lucey, currently executive vice-president of PBF Energy Inc., will succeed Michael Gayda as the company’s president. Todd O’Malley, current...

Repairs under way at ORPIC’s Muscat refinery

12/11/2014 Oman Oil Refineries & Petroleum Industries Co. (ORPIC) said it plans to resume operations at its 106,000-b/d Mina Al Fahal refinery near Muscat...

Qatar Shell lets EPCM contract for Pearl GTL operations

12/11/2014 Qatar Shell Ltd., a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, has let a contract to a division of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., Montreal, to provide long-term engin...

Phillips 66 advances plans for splitter at Sweeny refinery

12/11/2014 Phillips 66 has filed an application with state regulators for a permit to build a condensate splitter at its 247,000-b/d Sweeny refinery in Old Oc...

Chevron Phillips Chemical concludes Sweeny ethylene expansion

12/11/2014 Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP (CPCC) has completed installation of a furnace at its Sweeny petrochemical complex in Old Ocean, Tex., that will e...

Samref wraps Yanbu refinery revamp

12/11/2014 Saudi Aramco-Mobil Refinery Co. Ltd. (Samref), a 50-50 joint venture of Saudi Aramco and ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary Mobil Yanbu Refining Co. Inc.,...

BPCL adds petrochemicals to Kochi refinery expansion

12/09/2014 Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL), Mumbai, plans to diversify into petrochemicals production as part of the ongoing integrated expansion and upgra...

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected