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President Asks People to Conserve Fuel

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Original Title:
Bush Calls on Americans to Conserve Gasoline

Saying the recent hurricanes called attention to America's shortage of refinery capacity, President George W. Bush this morning called on American oil companies to expand and build more refineries. He also called on motorists to conserve gasoline by driving less and using mass transit more.

Bush warned gasoline is subject to the same laws of supply and demand as the rest of the economy, and that the storms damaged the nation's gas supply. He said he is willing to use the nation's strategic oil reserve to make up for any shortfalls that could result from Hurricane Rita. The federal government is also suspending some environmental rules concerning gasoline blends to make it easier to get gas where it's needed.

The president spoke after getting a briefing at the Department of Energy on the impact of the storm on Gulf Coast oil refineries and rigs. He says the storm affected the ability to get gasoline to markets.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita barreled through the Gulf Coast, interrupting production of gasoline and natural gas. The Gulf Coast area supplies about one-fourth of the domestically-produced oil and natural gas in the United States.

Oil companies shut down 16 refineries in the area as Hurricane Rita approached late last week. Even those that were undamaged by the hurricane will take several days to bring back online. Refineries requiring repairs could remain closed for weeks. Four refineries in southern Louisiana are still out of commission due to damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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