Posted in: Opinion,
by Patrick DeHaan on Aug 10, 2012 04:17 PM
The day when motorists see such rapid increases in gasoline prices is the day when it should be asked by lawmakers if there is enough spare refining capacity. That day should have been long ago.
The number of refineries have dwindled. Unstable margins have added into the risky future of expanding a refinery. The U.S. can require a certain amount of ethanol to be consumed and produced yearly, prompting hundreds of new ethanol refineries. But oil refineries? Nothing new in decades. Why hasn't the U.S. looked at oil refineries and the lack thereof in the volatile prices? It doesn't matter how much oil prices are or how much ethanol we produce- if we're still subject as a country to sticker shock like we're seeing- what's the point?
As I recall, the requirement of ethanol was supposed to drive us towards energy security. As long as there is conventional gasoline, there's no such thing. As long as we're subject to refinery fires and equipment malfunctions, all is pointless.
We need additional refinery capacity. We saw the direct reason why several times this year- specifically along the West Coast today. It was the Great Lakes region a few weeks ago, it was the West Coast earlier this year. It could have been the East Coast earlier this year when several major refineries were being sold or closed.
The bottom line, politicians, is that it doesn't matter how hard we try to become energy independent. It should start here at home with managing our refineries better, and building new state of the art facilities- just like the ethanol industry has been doing the past decade.
As a motorist, I'm disgusted that we're subject to every problem at a refinery, whether it be a fire, a control board failure, an equipment problem, etc. Let's get the act together. If we don't follow up, it'll cost this country precious GDP as more money goes to the gas pump, diverted from elsewhere in the economy. Wake up, politicians.