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U.S. government to blame for high gas prices

By Marilyn Barnewall

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The cost of gasoline has gone to $3.00 a gallon. Enjoy it. Worse is yet to come.
Why the increase? We will hear all kinds of reasons.

“We lack oil refinery capacity,” will be one “reason” given.

If that is true, why, since 1995, has the government allowed 24 refineries to close?

According to the Energy Information Administration, in 1995, Indian Refining in Lawrenceville, IL, Cyril Petrochemical Corp. in Cyril, OK, Powerine Oil Co. in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Sunland Refining Corp. in Bakersfield, CA, and Caribbean Petroleum Corp. in San Juan, Puerto Rico were closed.

In 1996, Tosco in Marcus Hook, PA was closed. So, too, were Barrett Refining Corp. in Custer, OK, Laketon Refining. In Laketon, IN, Total Petroleum, Inc. in Arkansas City, KS, Arcadia Refining. & Mktg. in Lisbon, LA, Barrett Refining. Corp. in Vicksburg, MS and Intermountain Refining. Co., Fredonia, AZ.

In 1997, Gold Line Refining. LTD in Lake Charles, LA was closed. So, too, were Canal Refining Company and Pacific Refining Company in Hercules, CA.

In 1998, Gold Line Refining Ltd. Of Jennings, LA was closed. So, too, were Petrolite Corp., Kilgore, TX; Shell Oil Co., Odessa, TX; Pride Refining, Inc., Abilene, TX, and Sound Refining, Inc., Tacoma, WA.

In 1999, TPI Petroleum, Inc., of Alma, MI was closed.

In 2000, Pennzoil of Roseville, PA, Berry Petroleum of Stephens, AK, and Chevron of Richmond Beach, WA were closed.

In 2001, Premcor of Blue Island, IL was closed.

The total loss of 830 thousand barrels per day of refined oil was lost with these closings. Yet, in a Chicago Tribune story on May 30,2004, Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, was quoted as saying: “Refineries operate at 96% of capacity… “ and “Since 1981 when refineries operated at 69% of their capacity, the number of refineries in the U.S. has dropped from 324 to 153.”
Why did the government let this happen? Are politicians just stupid? Or, are they all invested heavily in oil company stock?

According to the latest statistical data, it costs members of the OPEC nations about $4.00 per barrel to get the thick, black stuff out of the ground. How do we get from $4.00 per barrel to $70.00 per barrel?

The latest increase is caused, we are told, by Hurricane Katrina which closed and/or damaged oil refineries. Well, if we had the 830 barrels per day available from the refineries closed between 1995 and 2001 – refineries that were operating at 69% capacity – there would be no problem.

We are paying $3.00 a gallon at the pump and who knows what for winter heating of our homes because the Congress is clueless about energy.

When you are told by anti-war Democrats that the reason we have no funds to build new refineries, ask them if they voted for the 2005 federal budget. When pro-war Republicans tell you the same thing, ask them if they voted for the 2005 federal budget. Someone voted for it. It passed.

While you are paying your home and car energy costs this fall and winter, remember the following amounts approved in the 2005 federal budget by a majority of legislators. I’m checking to see which of my legislators voted for it… and I’m not voting for them.

Federal budget amounts and designees:

– $450,000: Baseball Hall of Fame

– $97,000: Franco-American Heritage Center, Lewiston, Maine

– $25,000: Develop curriculum to study mariachi music, Clark County School District, Nevada

– $350,000: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio

– $150,000: Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program, Lady B. Ranch, California

– $950,000: Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

– $250,000: Police Activities League Center, Anaheim, California

– $2,000,000: Kitchen Relocation, Fairbanks (Alaska) North Star Borough

– $250,000: Alaska Statehood Celebration, University of Alaska

– $250,000: Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, Tennessee

– $121,250: Demolition, Broadview Heights, Ohio

– $99,000: Train students in the motorsports industry, Patrick Henry Community College

– $50,000: Workforce development, Fashion Business, Inc., Los Angeles, California

– $100,000: Municipal swimming pool, Ottawa, Kansas

– $100,000: Amer-I-Can program for youth, Illinois

– $300,000: Relocate the Waynesboro, Mississippi Police Department

– $250,000: Camp Police Athletic League of New Jersey

– $35,000: Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

– $100,000: National Association of Promoting Success

– $175,000: Love Social Services, Fairbanks, Alaska

– $51,000: Robert E. Lee Community Center, Chase City, Virginia

– $150,000: Grammy Foundation

– $167,000: Horn Fly Research in Alabama

– $72,750: Public swimming pool construction, Prescott, Alaska

– $300,000: Revitalize downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa

– $500,000: Beyond Missing

– $75,000: Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, New York

– $100,000: High Falls Film Festival, Rochester, New York

– $291,000: International Museum of Women, San Francisco, California

– $300,000: Streetlights and salt dome, Markham, Illinois

– $1,500,000: Transport naturally chilled water from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga

– $250,000: City pool renovation and construction, Banning, California

– $250,000: Construct the Great Falls Parking Garage, Auburn, Maine

– $6,285,000: Wood utilization research across several states

– $200,000: Aviation Hall of Fame

– $500,000: Equipment purchases, KENW public radio station, Portales, New Mexico

– $100,000: “No Workshops, No Jumpshots,” Virginia

– $200,000: Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum, Greenville, Texas

– $275,000: National History Museum of the Adirondacks, Tupper Alaska

– $150,000: Obscenity Crimes Project

– $100,000: Breedlove Dehydrated Foods, Lubbock, Texas

– $50,000: Feral hog control in Missouri

– $250,000: Traffic calming, Windermere, Florida

– $500,000: Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City

– $250,000: North Creek Ski Bowl, North Creek, New York

– $1,750,000: Parents Anonymous

– $1,500,000: Wood products wastewater repairs Canton, North Carolina

– $150,000: Fishing Rationalization Research in Alaska

– $1,500,000: Anchorage Museum/Transit intermodal depot, Alaska

– $500,000: Center for the Living Arts, Alabama

– $500,000: B&O Railroad Museum Restoration, Maryland

– $250,000: Surplus federal property study, Walla Walla, Washington

– $98,000: Alaska Sea Otter Commission

– $200,000: Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Ohio

– $2,500,000: Horse Springs Ranch, New Mexico

– $150,000: “Parent Intern” program, Our House, Inc., Decatur, Georgia

– $3,000,000: Center for Grape Genetics, Geneva, New York

– $150,000: Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus, Georgia

– $100,000: Punxsutawney (Pennsylvania) Weather Museum

– $280,000: Sidewalks, street furniture and fa?ade improvements, Bakersfield, California

– $1,000,000: B.B. King Museum Foundation, Indianola, Mississippi

– $250,000: A day care center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

– $268,000: Livestock waste research in Iowa

– $350,000: Project Peacemaker, Turtle Mountain Community College, North Dakota

– $200,000: Wallace State Center for Automotive Manufacturing and Plastics, Hanceville, Alabama

– $160,000: Seafood waste in Alaska

– $1,108,000: Alternative salmon products in Alaska

– $796,000: Ice Age National Scientific Reserve

– $42,124: Citrus waste utilization in Florida

– $50,000: Wild rice research in Minnesota

– $300,000: Wool research

– $100,000: Trees Forever Program, Iowa

– $1,800,000: Eider and sea otter recovery at Alaska Sea Life Center

– $1,000,000: Trailways Station Revitalization and Visitors Center, Georgia

– $3,500,000: Bus acquisition in Atlanta

– $1,000,000: Clean fuel shuttle buses in Atlanta

– $750,000: Broward/Palm Beach County buses, Florida

– $2,000,000: Replace buses in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

– $200,000: YMCA bus, Alabama

– $25,000: Fitness equipment, YMCA of Bradford County, Pennsylvania

– $921,000: Hardwood tree improvement and regeneration, Indiana

– $350,000: Leafy spurge eradication in North Dakota

– $10,000: Slickspot Peppergrass

– $500,000: Chugach NF Valdez visitor center, Alaska

– $2,300,000: Animal Waste Management Research Laboratory, Bowling Green, Kentucky

– $515,000: Brown tree snake management in Guam

– $3,000,000: Grape Genomics Research Center, Davis, California

– $347,000: Grapefruit juice/drug interaction research, Florida

– $63,000: Noxious Weed in the Desert Southwest, Las Cruces, New Mexico

– $470,000: Swine and other animal waste management research, North Carolina

– $150,000: “Check ‘Em Out” program

– $750,000: Close Up Foundation

– $100,000: Marine turtles program

– $430,000: Automotive technology and repair workforce training, Excel Institute, Washington, D.C.

– $100,000: Pennsylvania Hunting and Fishing Museum, Warren, Pennsylvania

– $1,250,000: Train-to-Mountain, Washington

– $150,000: Alaska Botanical Garden

– $250,000: Boardwalk in Brookings Harbor, Oregon

– $200,000: Brookings Harbor Seafood Processing Plant, Oregon

– $800,000: Improve a historic building in Las Vegas, Nevada

– $500,000: Kincaid Park Soccer and Nordic Ski Center, Anchorage, Alaska

– $100,000: National Railway Museum, Green Bay, Wisconsin

– $900,000: Tongass Coast Aquarium, Ketchikan Alaska

The total amount of waste on this pork barrel spending (so our oil barrel costs can go out of sight): $60,652,124.00 of your money and my money spent on projects far less important to the American people than finding an alternative source of energy.

Thanks to the United Citizens of America for access to their excellent statistics.


Marilyn Barnewall, in 1978, was the first female to be named vice president in charge of a major loan and deposit portfolio at Denver’s largest bank. She started the nation’s first private bank, resigned to start her own firm and consulted for banks of all sizes in America and other countries. In June 1992, Forbes dubbed Barnewall “the dean of American private banking.”

Author of several banking texts, she has written extensively for the American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, and was U.S. consulting editor for Private Banker International (Lafferty Publications, London/Dublin).

This article originally appeared in the Grand Junction Free Press. Marilyn can be reached at [email protected].