26 September 2005
KAI RYSSDAL, anchor: Irony being what it is, Congress spent the last four and a half years working on an energy bill. The president finally signed it back in August. But the one-two Katrina-Rita punch has Washington dealing with many of those same issues all over again. Here's MARKETPLACE's Hillary Wicai.
HILLARY WICAI reporting: The ink's barely dry on this summer's energy bill, but get ready for a possible sequel. First, there's the Gasoline for America's Security Act. It would make it a lot easier to build more refineries by speeding up the approval process. It also calls for building refineries on surplus military facilities. Then, there's the National Energy Supply Diversification and Disruption Prevention Act. It would authorize drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Sound familiar?
Many of the provisions in both bills are the same controversial ones that were left out of the original energy bill to get it passed.
Mr. BOB SLAUGHTER (National Petrochemical & Refiners Association): You can't keep good ideas down.
WICAI: Bob Slaughter is with the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. He says something's got to give with American regulations or the consumer will continue to see high prices at the pump.
Mr. SLAUGHTER: It is very difficult to permit a new refinery. There's been no new refinery in the US in 30 years, and one is attempting to be built in Arizona, but they've been working on that one for 10 years.
WICAI: Environmentalists say there's a reason this kind of strategy got rejected the first time. Frank O'Donnell is president of Clean Air Watch.
Mr. FRANK O'DONNELL (Clean Air Watch): It's an all-out assault on the health and environmental requirements, and it all appears to be done under the guise of trying to make the country more secure because of the hurricane.
WICAI: There are some new ideas. One proposal would issue leases on public lands. Another would prohibit judicial review. They're controversial, too, and environmentalists say they're poor substitutions for old-fashioned conservation.
In Washington, I'm Hillary Wicai for MARKETPLACE.