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House Narrowly Passes New Refinery Legislation; CAFE Amendment Blocked

A Republican-crafted energy bill Friday aimed at encouraging construction of new refineries squeaked through the House of Representatives by a 212–210 vote today.

In addition to streamlining the process for the construction of new refineries, HR 3893, the Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005, also tackles gasoline distribution and pricing; reduces the number of specialized fuels in the country from 19 to 6; codifies the President’s ability to waive fuel quality standards in time of emergency, and encourages carpooling. (Earlier post.)

The House Rules Committee yesterday blocked an attempt to offer as an amendment to HR 3893 a bill increasing CAFE standards 10% by 2016.

Eighteen Republican representatives, led by Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), had earlier this week written a letter to House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier requesting approval to permit a vote on that amendment.

The transportation sector is the nation’s single largest consumer of oil, yet it is also the only sector of the economy that is less fuel efficient than it was 20 years ago. A debate on gasoline needs to include measures that will address that fact, especially when the National Academy of Sciences concluded four years ago that the technology exists to accomplish fuel economy goals cost-effectively and safely. And the study did not even consider three important technologies that automakers have since begun to introduce in the marketplace that can achieve even greater fuel economies: hybrid engine technologies, clean diesel technologies and high-strength, lightweight composites and steels.

The House needs and deserves to have a discrete debate on fuel economy, just as it has had during the debate on past energy bills. The issue must not get lost in disputes about other aspects of H.R. 3893, which deals with a wide variety of legal and regulatory issues. We urge you to allow a clear, full and open debate on the single measure that would do the most to reduce the U.S. demand for oil.

Also signing the letter were: Peter King, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security; Tom Davis (VA), Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform; Frank Wolf; Chris Shays; Mark Kirk; Todd Platts; Wayne Gilchrest; Jim Leach; Jim Saxton; Nancy Johnson; Tim Johnson; Michael Fitzpatrick; Roscoe Bartlett; Frank LoBiondo; Jim Ramstad; Jim Gerlach; and Curt Weldon.

No Democrats voted for the legislation; GOP leaders kept the vote open as they worked to convert the last few votes needed to push the bill through. Thirteen Republicans voted against the bill; six Republicans and six Democrats did not vote.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 3893 would increase direct spending by $1.5 billion over the next five years, and by $3 billion over the 2006-2015 period. In addition, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost about $500 million over the 2006-2010 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.

Now it’s on to the Senate.



Shirley E

So let's see, they basically voted for increasing production and against reducing demand. How novel.


You forgot something. They also increased spending. On top of that they made a lame attempt at green washing it by `promoting carpooling'. More garbage legislation out of our broken federal government. We're way overdue for a revolution.



CAFE is likely to be redundant anyway. If gas prices stay high consumers will voluntarily move to higher mileage vehicles. And if gas prices fall again, then arguably there is no need to conserve.


There is no point in increasing CAFE. It doesn't work anyway. Manufacturers can buy their way out of if it. Its just a a distraction from the real issue: CO2 emissions. Tax new cars based on CO2/mile like they do in the UK. Then we'll get somewhere.


If these outrageously profitable oil companies wanted new refineries they would be building them right now. This is not a pro-fuel production bill, it is a pro pollution bill. The president can always claim the perpetual emergency of the so called War on Terror as an excuse for increasing air pollution. Shame, shame, shame!

Harvey D

Let's see. Twenty + new polluting refineries, built according to relaxed standards, could mean that more V-8, V-10 and V-12, 3-Ton 4 x 4 will be coming soon? We will burn more and more of this back stuff till we choke. Only one problem left unsolved, where is it all going to come from? Will two or three more OIL wars do it? Will the average american realize that he/she is being led in the wrong path? Making more and more polluting fuel available is not the right answer to the USA medium and long term clean energy shortage. Vehicles capable of 60 + miles per gallon instead of the present 20 would void the requirements for 20 + new refineries, progressively reduce pollution by 75%+, reduce smogs and hurricanes and reduce OIL imports from OPEP countries to zero. Now, who doesn't want that common sense cleaner approach? Guess who!

PS: Light weight cars capable of 60 miles per gallon are a reality in Asia and Europe. Cleaner Plug-ins or PHEVs capable of 180 miles per gallons could be on the road within 3 years. Cheap and plentiful gas will delay the introduction of greener vehicles in the USA for an extended period. However, Asia and Europe will innovate and make the required transition and probably squeeze the Big Three completely out of the world market.


Typical Congress, doesn't understand the real issue, that we are at or quickly approaching peak supply of oil and most of these refineries will be redundant anyways. Let's hope the Senate has some better sense.


I was at a half-day conference at which Matt Simmons spoke, and his take on it was that despite peak oil, we really do need to invest in refineries. Many of them are quite old and sorely need to be replaced.

Now having the Congress throw more money at the oil companies to build more makes no sense. That's another matter entirely.


The USA peak oil was 1970. The world is about now. It's all downhill from here.



No the fact is the old cafe standard was a mess as it ent by entire fleet wide and none of the american car makers were ever a full range car maker.

Gm and fords benifits to its workers were nd were forced to stay based on the old model of them being more truck companies and thus able to afford an extra 2-3000 per unit. But when cafe fubared it up it made a mess of things.

Now they are trying to change cafe so it no longer will screw up that way but until they fully do so they are realy hard pressed to change the mil;age standards all that much.

Now the saner smarter cafe standard actauly manages to get the milage up a fair bit more then the old standard would have.

And to make everything even more silly its nearing the end of oil anyway so the gov realy doesnt want to tank one or more of the big three and take on the huge pension load they carry just to up some cafe stanard vy an ammount that wont change the fact we are going to have climate change this century.

In short they arnt gona tank the car companies and take a HUGE ass hit when the pensions fails AND a huge ass number of union jobs NOT just at the car makers but everywhere along the damn line of stuff made for the damn cars goes tits the bloody hell up just because you have a stick up your ass about suvs.


If GM or Fraud go down, you can bet Daimler, Toyota and Honda will buy all the production facilities and keep Americans employed, no it wouldn't be a happy day but it wouldn't be the end of the world.


Ya right think happy thoughts.

little shop

Amazing! We elected these people? I am not so worried about the pollution, I dont like it but its a HUGE waste of $. For us AND the oil companies. We are going to pay them to build more refinaries that will be needed for few years at most. Then as there is less crude and prices go up the current refinaries will be enough.

The real problem is CO2 emmisions, and THIS bill wont change CO2 much. Hopefully they will stop oxygenating fuel at least. USING less fuel makes less CO2 even if it makes a little more smog.

Real answer: tax fuel MORE, give no rebates for hybrid.
I love hybrids but why are we giving $ away to sell cars that have waiting lists that are made mostly overseas? Let the MARKET sell the cars. Keep gas high and hybrid owners get a tax break by using less fuel. The rebates on the PRIUS dont sell any more and wont for years. Toyota is not going to be up with demand anytime in 2006. So why throw money there?


Actauly bush wants a seprate refinery for the military and he also wants to spread out the refineries and get some excess capacity in there so this sort of thing doesnt happen again.

Hes not trying to lower gas prices and bring back the age of suvs.

In fact I dare say the oil companies and bush planned this all along nd have done more for fuel eff car sales then anyone. The oil cpmanies definetly were planning on oil prices sparking conservation. In fact they just said so.

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