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Highlights President Bush's Four-Point Plan to Combat High Energy Prices

PORT ARTHUR, TX - Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today renewed the call for expanded oil refining capacity in the United States and discussed additional steps the Department of Energy (DOE) is taking to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.  Secretary Bodman made the statements after touring the Motiva Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.

"We need a more robust energy sector; and one way to do that is to strengthen and expand our domestic oil refining capacity.  We're hopeful that Motiva will continue to work to expand their capacity to 600,000 barrels per day," Secretary Bodman said.  "In addition, we need to make sure that our lines of communications are up and running and that our emergency response systems are fully in place as we move into hurricane season.  I'm proud of how the department and the nation's energy sector responded last year - but we need to build on our success, and I believe we're doing that."

The lack of domestic refining capacity is a significant factor in the high gasoline prices being experienced by American consumers.  While in Port Arthur, Secretary Bodman visited the 235,000 bpd Motiva refinery and discussed with Motiva leadership their announced plans to expand the refinery's capacity.

Earlier this month, President Bush announced a four-part plan to combat high energy prices.  The four-point plan consists of ensuring consumers are treated fairly, increasing efficiency, expanding supply and investing in the deployment of new technologies to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  One key element of this plan is to increase domestic supplies of crude and gasoline in order to keep up with rising global demand.  As part of this effort, the President called on Congress to simplify the approval process for refiners to expand their refineries, which will help reduce America's imports of foreign oil and the price of energy.  Additionally, President Bush introduced the Advanced Energy Initiative in his 2006 State of the Union address to encourage investment in alternative sources of energy including commercially competitive cellulosic ethanol, improved hybrid vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars, all which will help us transform the way we power our transportation sector.

Also while in Port Arthur, Secretary Bodman discussed hurricane response preparations under way in the area and within the department.  Much of the Gulf Coast sustained significant damage due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - the damage included destruction of oil drilling equipment in the Gulf of Mexico and oil refining equipment along the coast.  Traveling with Secretary Bodman was the Director of DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin Kolevar, who manages one of DOE's lead offices managing disaster response.

DOE has been busy since last year preparing for the 2006 hurricane season.  Secretary Bodman today discussed a new DOE-sponsored weather modeling system and improvements to the department's Visualization Room.  These upgrades will provide better-time information and forecasts, which will allow for better planning and response during a natural disaster.

In January, DOE hosted a conference in Mississippi to bring together federal, state, and local governments, as well as industry leaders, to share lessons learned and best practices from the 2005 hurricane season.  The department has worked with states to help them improve their energy assurance plans and will implement a toll-free hotline, which will allow state and local governments and representatives from the energy industry to improve communications with the DOE during an emergency.  DOE has also increased the number of infrastructure experts capable of deployment to a region if necessary.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940