U.S. needs new oil refineries

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One reason for the exorbitant gas prices is that there hasn’t been a major new refinery in the United States since 1976, and experts say none is on the horizon. Sure, refineries are expensive, and nobody likes having a big, smelly refinery near his or her back yard. But another reason you won’t see any refineries springing up soon is that oil companies like things the way they are: Their refineries are operating near capacity, so they sell practically every drop of fuel they make.

The soaring gas costs are most assuredly related to the limited refining capacity in the United States. The number of domestic refineries is declining. In 1980, there were more than 300 U.S. refineries. At the end of 2003, there were 149, roughly a 50 percent decrease.

Isn’t it about time that our elected officials in Washington start standing up for us and demand the oil companies invest some of their record profits in constructing new environmentally friendly refineries? Just think about what would happen if a coordinated terrorist attack took several refineries off line.

We need new refineries as a matter of national security, as well as to encourage competition and reduce the depletion of another scarce resource – our money.

Russell Jabaut, Durham

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