House Republicans mull post-Katrina energy bill
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress may need
to pass legislation dealing with energy issues, such as
incentives to expand U.S. oil refining capacity, in
Hurricane Katrina, House Republican leaders said on Friday.
“We may be looking at doing another energy bill of some
sort,” House Republican Leader Tom DeLay of Texas told a
conference after a meeting with other Republican leaders.
Asked to elaborate, House Speaker Dennis Hastert of
Illinois, said energy legislation could deal with the
of U.S. refinery capacity, perhaps by cutting regulation
or making it “a little easier to site a refinery, put it in
place and get it up and running.”
Last month, President George W. Bush signed into law a
broad, $14.5 billion energy bill to boost natural gas and
drilling, nuclear power, coal plants and alternative energy
sources. The law included a tax break for major U.S.
expansion projects, along with steps to streamline a
permitting process long lamented by the industry.
But the new law has not yet spurred any plans for new
refineries. Companies remain leery of proposing new plants
U.S. communities, which have a history of vigorously
That, combined with steep start-up costs, have kept any new
refineries from being built since 1976. The resulting
of refining capacity has left the United States, the
largest energy consumer, more dependent on gasoline
Republican lawmakers heading the Senate Energy Committee
and House Energy and Commerce Committee said this week they
were seeking ways to encourage companies to build new U.S.
refineries, preferably at inland locations less vulnerable
Earlier this year, the industry expressed little or no
interest when Bush offered them the option of building new
multibillion-dollar refineries on abandoned U.S. military
U.S. refining capacity is expected to grow at an annual
rate of less than 1 percent between 2005 and 2007, about
the pace of demand, as a handful of companies add capacity
existing plants. The Energy Information Administration has
estimated U.S. refining capacity will be about 18.1 million
barrels per day at the end of this year.