Anti-environment forces in Congress have repeatedly sought to blame the decline in the nation’s oil refining capacity on environmental protections. However, EPA has found no instances of environmental laws impeding refinery construction, and refiners themselves acknowledge that market forces are the primary factor behind refinery capacity shortages.
Nevertheless, H.R. 6, the House energy bill, contained provisions that weaken the ability of state and local communities, as well as EPA and other federal agencies, to regulate
the siting of new oil refineries or the expansion of existing facilities. The bill transfers many of these authorities to the Department of Energy, which has no mandate to protect
public health or the environment, and would leave many low-income and minority communities unable to defend themselves from refinery pollution.
Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA) proposed an amendment to H.R. 6 to strip these sections from the bill (House Amendment 83). On April 20, 2005, the House defeated the
Solis amendment by a 182-248 vote (House roll call vote 115). YES is the pro-environment vote. The refinery provisions were not part of the Senate energy bill but were retained in conference and were adopted as part of the final bill signed into law
by President Bush.