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U.S. expects trouble from refinery closing

April 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM

WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- A decision to close refineries in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the U.S. northeast could mean higher gasoline and heating costs, officials said.

The U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee heard testimony about the potential impact of refinery closures in the region.

Bob Greco, director of downstream activity for trade group American Petroleum Institute, testified that environmental regulations were hurting productivity potential.

"We need a course correction to tell the markets that America is serious about providing the fuel it needs and we call on the administration to show leadership on energy," he said.

The closure of three refineries in the region means refining capacity is down about 658,000 barrels per day. Sunoco and others have said they're losing millions of dollars from their refinery business, pushing the sector to the Gulf Coast.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., chairman of the Senate committee, said closing refineries in the region would hurt consumers.

"This will affect the price of gasoline, diesel and heating oil and lead to potential shortages of those fuels in the northeast," he said during the hearing. "An early or prolonged cold spell next winter could send home heating prices skyrocketing -- hitting consumers hard."

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