Ohio Congressmen Latta and Balderson Introduce Bill to Boost Energy Refining Capacity

Two Ohio congressmen are spearheading legislation to boost U.S. fossil-fuel-refining capacity which has declined since 2020. 

Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH-05) and Troy Balderson (R-OH-12) are sponsoring the Researching Efficient Federal Improvements for Necessary Energy Refining (REFINER) Act alongside Congressmen Greg Pence (R-IN-06), and Randy Weber (R-TX-29). The measure would commence a federal effort to study factors that have led to lessened refinery capacity and recommend policies to increase fuel refining. 

Numerous U.S. oil refineries have shut down over the last three years and a new major refinery has not come online since 1977. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, atmospheric crude-oil distillation capacity reached a peak of 19 million barrels per day in 2020, up from 17.8 million in 2013. Total capacity last year was just above its level a decade ago at 17.9 million barrels per day.

“As a result of refinery closures – coupled with an increase in the demand for fuel – North American refining capacity has reached its lowest level in years,” Latta said in a statement. “Energy prices are already soaring, and the dwindling refinery capacity threatens to further increase these costs…. It’s imperative we work toward solutions – like increasing our refinery capacity and unleashing domestic energy production – to help lower energy prices for hardworking families, farmers, and manufacturers in Ohio and across America.”

If the Latta-Balderson bill is enacted, the National Petroleum Council would analyze near-term capacity of American petrochemical refineries, the risks to those facilities and opportunities for increasing capacity. The council would also study policy decisions that have compromised refining capabilities. Upon completing these analyses and studying the role refineries play in American energy security, the council would submit a report detailing its findings to Congress and the Energy Secretary. 

“The REFINER Act takes stock of the factors contributing to America’s diminished refining capacity and sets the stage for meeting consumer demands long-term,” Balderson said. “In the wake of record-high prices, Congress should identify and reduce red tape to increase refining capacity and meet the energy needs of the American people.”

Latta has also backed broadening of other energy sources, particularly nuclear power. Earlier this month, the congressman introduced the U.S. House version of the Nuclear Fuel Security Act to expand nuclear fuel production. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Jim Risch (R-ID) have introduced a companion bill in their chamber.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].



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