Petrochemical Group Calls Energy Hearing 'Political Theater'

Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, commented on the scope and purpose of an April 1 House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing to seek "answers from Big Oil":

"Congress' preoccupation with the profits of American oil and gas producers is entirely misguided given that market forces and global tensions are the key factors in current oil prices and refining costs. As domestic refiners, we purchase oil on the markets to produce gasoline, and shrinking margins are the best evidence of how we bear the brunt of high crude prices first.

"Chairman Markey stated in his March 11th press release that this hearing 'is not an April fool's joke on Big Oil, because the prices at the pump are no laughing matter.' High costs are never a laughing matter for consumers or businesses. Assaulting an American industry with punitive taxes, additional federal renewable fuel mandates that may have a negative impact on supply and actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, and the exploitation of its executives for just another Capitol Hill photo op is hardly a remedy that will produce the desired relief for consumers.

"Political theater never provides realistic solutions to our nation's energy challenges. The American consumer deserves better from policymakers."

According to the association, the industry has made new investments in 2006 that reached more than $174 billion (a 29 percent increase over 2005). Between 1992 and 2006, the U.S. oil industry invested more than $1.25 trillion in a range of long-term energy initiatives. This compares to net income of $900 billion, the association reported.

Its members include more than 450 companies, including virtually all U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers, who supply gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, lubricants and the chemicals that serve as "building blocks" for making everything from plastics to clothing to medicine to computers.

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