Bush urges gas conservation
Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:35 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Monday that about 1.8 million barrels per day in Texas and Louisiana refining capacity shut by recent hurricanes will be back on line soon, but urged American motorists to conserve gasoline wherever possible.
The 1.8 million bpd refining capacity will return "relatively quickly because the storm missed a lot of refining capacity down the Texas coast," Bush said after meeting with Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Rita hit the Texas-Louisiana border on Saturday with winds of 120 miles per hour and dumped a foot of rain on the coastal region. Two large Port Arthur, Texas, refineries owned by Valero and Total were expected to remain offline for repairs for up to a month.
Bush also said he would continue suspension of antipollution laws for gasoline and the Jones Act shipping law to help oil shipments in the wake of the hurricane. Both actions were taken after Hurricane Katrina last month hit Gulf Coast refineries hard.
"We will continue the waivers to allow the winter blends to be used through the country," Bush said, referring to Environmental Protection Agency actions soon after last month's Hurricane Katrina. "We have instructed the EPA to ... keep the suspension in place, which should ... increase the supply."
Bush also repeated that he was prepared to loan crude oil to refineries from the government's emergency stockpile.
"We're willing to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to mitigate any shortfalls that affect our consumers," he said.
Bush, a former Texas oilman, also said that the back-to-back hurricanes show the need for more U.S. refining capacity to meet gasoline demand.
"The storms have shown how fragile the balance is of supply and demand in America," he said.
In the meantime, American consumers should try to conserve fuel when possible. Federal employees will be encouraged to carpool or use mass transit, Bush said.
"We can all pitch in by being better conservers of energy -- people need to recognize the storm has caused disruption," he said.
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