The gas price spikes that followed in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made a compelling case for reducing U.S. dependence on oil. Some members of Congress, however, used those disasters to renew their push for relaxed environmental safeguards and expedited energy production and refinery construction.
Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced H.R. 3893, the Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005. While purporting to address refinery capacity, Barton’s bill would, in fact:
> Unnecessarily extend Clean Air Act deadlines for ozone pollution cleanup, putting millions of Americans at health risk;
>Limit the use of cleaner fuels, undermining the efforts of states to improve air quality and hampering the introduction of less polluting low-sulfur diesel fuel;
> Allow the President to unilaterally designate federal land, including national wildlife refuges, on which to site new refineries;
> Give the Department of Energy greater authority over refinery authorizations than state governments and EPA; and
> Require taxpayers to reimburse refiners for any delays in permitting, construction, or operation caused by litigation or legal compliance.
In addition, the original version of the bill would have effectively gutted the New Source Review program, which requires the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants and
other facilities to install new pollution controls if they make changes that emit more pollution. An amendment removed this provision but left the other harmful ones intact.
On October 7, 2005, the House approved H.R. 3893 by a 212-210 vote (House roll call vote 519). NO is the pro-environment vote. The Senate failed to approve a companion bill.