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Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate is debating a much anticipated energy bill and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is working to include a provision in the energy package that would help Wyoming oil refineries.

“The overall energy bill recognizes that Wyoming can be part of the solution to the energy problems and that our resources can help fuel the nation. The need for a comprehensive energy bill has been increasing for 30 years and this year Congress is working harder than ever to come to a consensus on a plan for domestic energy production, conservation and efficiency,” said Enzi.

The energy bill, H.R. 6, which is on the Senate floor, would provide a comprehensive national energy policy with the goal of expanding domestic energy production, increasing conservation and efficiency efforts while decreasing dependence on foreign oil. The bill would authorize full funding of President Bush’s Clean Coal Power Initiative of $200 million annually to be spent on clean coal research in coal-based gasification technologies. It would also repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 to increase investment in electricity transmission and generation. Enzi noted that the legislation provides production incentives for oil and gas exploration and seeks to maintain the nation’s coal production capacity.

Indian tribes, such as the Shoshone and Arapaho, could also benefit from the energy bill which would assist with grants and technical assistance for tribes to develop their own energy resources. Hydrogen energy and fuel cell research, development and demonstration activities are also included in the bill.

To address the nation’s need to increase refinery capacity, Enzi co-sponsored S. 1039, the Gas Price Reduction Through Increased Refinery Capacity Act of 2005. Among its provisions the bill would create a temporary allowance for refining companies to expense equipment on their taxes if they expand or build new facilities. In order to expense equipment, refineries must have a contract for expansion or construction in place by 2008 and the plant must be in service by 2012.

Investment in Wyoming

The equipment expensing provision has been included as part of the tax section of the energy bill as reported out of the Senate Finance Committee. It could potentially help allow investment and expansion in currently existing refineries in Evansville, Evanston, Cheyenne, Newcastle and Sinclair.

“This bill would make opportunities available for refineries to invest in newer technology with incentives to upgrade equipment,” said Enzi. “By increasing the capacity of current oil refineries in Wyoming more domestic oil can be utilized and our dependence on foreign sources of oil could decrease.”

Enzi signed a letter to the Chairmen of the Energy and Natural Resources and Finance Committees urging them to include measures in the energy bill that would encourage investment in new petroleum refining capacity, reliability and efficiency. The letter stressed that domestic gasoline is not meeting demands while fuel costs continue to rise. Senator Thomas, R-Wyo., also signed the letter.

Amendments to the energy bill are being considered and floor debate is expected to continue through the week. The House passed its version of the energy bill, H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, by a vote of 249-183 on April 21.