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Rep. Abigail Spanberger Urges President Biden to Use Defense Production Act to Strengthen America’s Short-Term Oil Refinery Capacity, Lower Gas Prices for Virginians

"[O]il demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels but global refining capacity has declined by 3,000,000 barrels per day"

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From Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07):

Spanberger Urges President Biden to Use Defense Production Act to Strengthen America’s Short-Term Oil Refinery Capacity, Lower Gas Prices for Virginians 

Last Week, a Bipartisan Majority of the U.S. House Voted to Pass the Congresswoman’s Legislation to Help Bring Down Food Costs, Reduce Gas Prices, and Strengthen America’s Supply Chains 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger is helming another effort to help lower gas prices for Virginia consumers and expand refinery capacity across the country. 

While skyrocketing fuel prices have been primarily driven by high crude oil prices, the most recent spike in gas prices is in large part due to a lack of refining capacity — as oil demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels but global refining capacity has declined by 3,000,000 barrels per day and U.S. capacity alone has declined by 1,000,000 barrels per day. This oil refining capacity shortage is the result of an unprecedented wave of refinery closures after demand for fuel plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite record gas prices, oil companies have demonstrated little interest in restarting refineries that were shuttered during the pandemic. 

To help get America’s refineries into high gear, Spanberger and U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08) and Sharice Davids (D-KS-03) introduced a resolution urging the Biden Administration to use its powers under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to expand America’s short-term oil refinery capacity and curtail the refining bottleneck that is contributing to rising gas prices. While the White House has previously issued letters to the industry pressing for increased production, this legislation presses the President to take real action — rather than issue more statements. 

“In order to ensure sufficient refining capacity to reduce fuel prices and prevent fuel shortages in the near term, the President should use authorities granted him by the Defense Production Act of 1950 to provide targeted technical and financial assistance to restart certain idled refineries for a limited time,” states the resolution. 

The resolution’s focus on a short-term increase in capacity is focused on addressing the current price spike facing consumers — while also avoiding long-term impacts on the climate and making sure we continue to pursue policies that support high-paying American energy jobs and lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.

The resolution continues, “Restarting idled American oil refineries for a limited time could reduce gas prices and cool inflationary pressures without endangering our climate goals.”

The full text of the resolution is available here.

BACKGROUND 

Spanberger continues to be focused on bringing down the cost of gas, groceries, and prescription drugs for Virginians. Last week, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voted to pass legislation led by Spanberger — the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act — to help lower costs at the grocery store, reduce gas prices, strengthen food supply chains, and increase competition in the American meat industry.

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