FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Maria P. Donatucci
Donatucci to bring House committee to city in effort to save refineries
Questions why refineries are closing at a time of sharply rising gasoline prices
HARRISBURG, Feb. 17 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today urged the public to turn out for a hearing next week into the planned closing of three area oil refineries, which would have a shattering effect on the local economy.
Donatucci requested the House Democratic Policy Committee conduct the hearing to learn more about the closures of the Conoco and Phillips oil refineries and the projected impact on workers and the local economy.
The hearing will get underway at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at the National Constitution Center, F.M. Kirby Auditorium, 525 Arch St., Philadelphia.
The current list of expected testifiers includes:
Jim Savage, president, United Steelworkers 10-1
Dave Miller, executive vice president, United Steelworkers 10-901
Abraham Amoros, Pennsylvania legislative director, Laborers’ International Union of North America
According to Donatucci, the loss of revenue from so many well-paying jobs and the apparent lack of commitment from the governor’s office could have the greatest impact on smaller municipalities in the area. One or more could even be pushed into bankruptcy by the revenue loss.
“We haven’t given up hope yet, but we would have liked to have representatives from the oil companies on-hand to give us details of their closure plans and what they are doing to mitigate the impact on workers,” said Donatucci. “There are 2,000 loyal workers out there who should be treated with more respect than they have been getting in this whole process.
“In one refinery, workers were told they would still have their jobs for six months, but now they’re getting laid off after just three.”
Donatucci said there is growing disappointment in the Corbett administration among those working to soften the blow of the refinery closings.
“He needs to be more out there, more up front. This is 2,000-plus jobs, 2,000-plus families and by all appearances, his people are treating it like an afterthought,” Donatucci said. “There’s no evidence of an aggressive approach to trying to hold off the closures or to work with the employees to try to transition them into other job opportunities.
Donatucci also questioned the timing off the refinery closings -- gasoline prices have been sharply rising.
“Refinery capacity is one of the factors in gasoline prices,” asserted Donatucci. “In the last few years, you’d hear that when a refinery had to be unexpectedly taken off-line, such as for a hurricane, that the reduced supply would cause prices to go up.
“Now, with $4 or even $5 a gallon for gasoline said to be quite likely in the coming months, oil companies are shutting down three refineries and reducing the supply of product? Can that do anything but help keep the gasoline prices higher?
Donatucci added that she would gladly work with the Corbett administration on the challenges facing the refiners and their workers, but that there are no serious signs that the governor’s office wants such a relationship.
“I greatly appreciate that Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla agrees with me and the other legislators from this area that we need to get a clearer picture of what has been done already and what the plans are going forward from here.