Senate panel to examine problems facing downstream sector

The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will examine the problems of the downstream oil industry in a hearing Apr. 26. The issues include gasoline markets, refining capacity, infrastructure (including liquid pipelines), and plant siting problems.

Apr 11th, 2001


By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr. 11 -- The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will examine the problems of the downstream oil industry in a hearing Apr. 26.

The issues include gasoline markets, refining capacity, infrastructure (including liquid pipelines), and plant siting problems. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a similar hearing last month (OGJ Online, Mar. 30, 2001).

A witness list for the Senate hearing was not available, although refiners, gasoline marketers, and pipeline operators are expected to testify.

Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.) introduced a comprehensive bill last February that would scale back environmental rules that have discouraged construction of refineries and pipelines.

That proposal, however, is expected to change pending the energy policy recommendations of a White House energy task force and input from Democrats, who have a competing bill. Republican leaders hope Congress will pass a bipartisan energy bill this summer.

The hearing is expected to examine the effect current clean fuel rules have on prices. The refining industry maintains the dozens of different grades of fuels the Environmental Protection Agency has required under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 are not cost-effective. Refiners say the "boutique" fuels also exacerbate supply problems that can occur if a refinery shuts down or a pipeline needs repair.

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