WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) today led a bipartisan meeting with about 150 steelworkers from refineries in the Philadelphia region and members of the Pennsylvania and Delaware congressional delegations.
Senator Casey has called for a Senate hearing on the potentially damaging effect that the planned closure of refineries in Philadelphia, Trainer and Marcus Hook would have on fuel prices in the region.
Today, Senator Casey released a letter to incoming Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald pressing the company to redouble efforts to find a buyer for its facilities.
“With so many jobs on the line and the risk of higher fuel prices for consumers across the northeast, Sunoco and ConocoPhillips must be held accountable for the impact refinery closures would have on the region,” said Senator Casey. “We need these companies to be more transparent with workers and the public as they contemplate decisions that could have very damaging impacts not only on the local communities but on the entire northeast.”
Senator Casey and Congressman Meehan were joined by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and U.S. Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), and John Carney (D-DE).
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to incoming Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald is below:
Dear Mr. MacDonald:
As you transition into your new leadership role at Sunoco, I would like to underscore my request that the company redouble its efforts to find a buyer for its refineries in Marcus Hook and Philadelphia.
I am very concerned by Sunoco’s recent announcement that it has not received a single proposal for the purchase of Marcus Hook as an operating refinery, and is instead pursuing alternatives for the facility. Workers at the Marcus Hook refinery have already been put under tremendous stress by the uncertain future of this facility, and this announcement only serves to exacerbate this anxiety. Delaware County continues to have an unemployment rate of close to 8 percent, with more than 21,000 county residents currently unable to find work. I have serious concerns about the impact shuttering this refinery will have on the community and on the economic recovery in the region.
I have similar concerns about the future of Sunoco’s Philadelphia refinery. Philadelphia’s unemployment rate currently stands at 10.6 percent, which translates to more than 68,000 city residents being unable to find work. The closing of this refinery would be a difficult setback in the recovery effort and add to an already unacceptable employment situation in Philadelphia. While I understand that the company has received varying degrees of interest in its Philadelphia refinery, I strongly urge you to put forth a good faith effort to ensure that both this facility and the facility in Marcus Hook, and the jobs associated with both sites, are maintained.
The shuttering of these two refineries will undoubtedly hurt the local economy, but the loss of our refining capacity on the east coast could have a ripple effect across our nation’s economy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the reduction in refining caused by the potential closure of these facilities is likely to impact supplies of petroleum products and create price volatility. This will have a far reaching, negative impact on the price and quality of transportation fuels and home heating oil. I am particularly concerned that the loss of refining capacity associated with these facilities will hit the Northeast very hard because this part of the country is so heavily reliant upon home heating oil. It will also increase our dependence on foreign oil at a time our nation is striving for greater energy independence. This all comes at a time when some recent reports have shown improved margins on refined oil.
While I understand that confidentiality agreements may restrict your ability to comment publicly on prospective buyers, I strongly recommend that you share as much information on prospective buyers with your workforce and the public as possible. I have heard concerns that parameters and restrictions have been placed on the sale of these facilities. Such boundaries will only serve to limit the future use of these facilities and hurt the region’s economy. I encourage you to do all that is within your power to ensure that there are no such impediments to their sale.
As the workers and their families continue to face an uncertain future, it is imperative that Sunoco take concrete action to sell these refineries and maintain the jobs associated with them. As I have said repeatedly, I stand ready to assist you in encouraging a buyer to purchase these facilities. Thank you for your continued attentions to my concerns about this matter.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator