Oil Industry Warns: "If Climate Bill Passes, US Refining Will Fall." Duh.

The oil industry has a warning for all of us: "U.S. refining production may drop by a quarter by 2030 . . . if the climate-change legislation approved by the House becomes law, the American Petroleum Institute said." This from a report today in Bloomberg that reveals -- gasp -- that the climate bill will do exactly what it's supposed to do.

Bloomberg says that the oil industry group American Petroleum Institute (the same folks behind the Energy Citizen rallies) commissioned a study on the impacts of the climate bill on stateside oil refining, and the report found that it will cut into both oil refining, and investment in oil refining. Oil refining will drop 25% by 2030, and investment in oil refining will drop as much as 80% by then. To which I say:


The report's findings are intended to generate fear, with claims that such loss in investment and refining will lead to lost jobs and a greater dependence on foreign oil. From Bloomberg:

The API said costs associated with the program will discourage refiners from running plants at full capacity. The report concludes that U.S. refining production may drop by 4.4 million barrels a day, or 25 percent, and investment in refining may fall by as much as $90 billion, or 88 percent, by 2030.

“This study clearly shows the devastating impact this legislation could have on U.S. jobs and U.S. energy security,” Jack Gerard, chief executive officer of the Washington-based group, said in a statement today.

No one can blame the oil industry for working to protect it's interests, but the API either doesn't grasp the purpose of the bill, or is pretending not to in order to gain political attention.

This is, in essence, after all, actually fine illustration of how the climate bill is supposed to work -- and it's nothing to get alarmed about. During a transition to a clean (er) energy economy, which the climate bill seeks to usher in, reliance on fossil fuels like oil and coal will ideally be curbed. Investment will shift from dirty energy operations like oil refineries to clean ones, like wind farms and solar plants. People will unfortunately lose jobs at oil refineries, yes -- but new ones will be created to man clean energy generators. In the meanwhile, stricter fuel economy regulations and innovations in hybrid car technology will lower our dependence on foreign oil.

Evolution can be painful, but we can't simply continue to run coal plants and oil refineries on the grounds that they keep people employed. It's why we use the word 'transition.' Nobody wants to see more unemployment -- but the idea is to transition jobs to the clean energy sector, not eliminate them. Unfortunately, time is a factor, and climate change won't wait for the ideal economic situation for us to orchestrate such a transition. It has to begin now.


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