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Can you say $4 a gallon gas?

Sunday, August 28, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Lousiana has 17 active refineries, producing about 16% of America’s fuel.

Total American refinery capacity utilization was at 93% in 2004.

American refineries are now operating at 97% capacity, processing 17 million barrels of oil a day (American consumes 20.6 million barrels of oil a day.)

If Katrina takes refinery capacity off-line, the effect at the pump will be immediate. There is no more capacity available to up output within the country. Shortfalls will have to be made up from imported gasoline suppliers. They are unlikely to be moved by complaints of gauging from American congressmen.

At this point Americans may ask why no new refinery has been built in the United States since 1976. (There is one on the drawing board for Yuma, Arizona.)

There were 315 refineries operating in the United States in 1981. There are 144 operating today.

BTW: 25% of American oil and natural gas production comes from off-shore drilling in the Gulf. No word yet on Katrina’s impact on those operations.

Bottom line: High gasoline prices are the result of decisions made by legislators. It is that simple. Congressmen decided to put in place the laws that have led to these prices, and to the higher ones ahead. They have chosen to cripple refinery construction and domestic oil exploration.

The “they,” by the way, are overwhelmingly Democrats. Not exclusively. There are a handful of Republicans who don’t mind you paying $3 a gallon and more, soon to be $4 a gallon.

But the vast majority of Republicans want to make new refinery construction easier, and new oil exploration –beginning in ANWR– lawful.

In fact, the ANWR vite will be coming up soon. You may want to call your elected representatives and ask how they will be voting and what they will be doing to get new refineries under construction.

The Congressional switchboard: 202-225-3121.

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