Shuttering Refinery Threatens National Security, High Prices, Diminished Access

Elected officials, workers and Hawaii residents must all work together to prevent Tesoro from closing its Kapolei, Hawaii refinery.

Shuttering this highly-profitable facility would threaten national security, force the people of Hawaii to pay higher prices for gasoline, cause fuel shortages and end the jobs of 210 well-paid workers.

Refinery owner Tesoro said in January it would stop refining at the facility and convert it into an import, storage and distribution terminal.

Before the refinery was constructed in 1972, Hawaii imported gasoline and other oil products at high cost and supply was routinely a problem. The state’s residents should not be subjected to that again just so Tesoro can make even higher profits.

In addition, national security is at stake. The Tesoro refinery supplies as much as 70 percent of the fuel needed for Hawaiian military bases. Importing that fuel, especially from foreign sources, puts those bases in jeopardy.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie created an oil refinery task force to assess the impact on Hawaii energy security and affordability of closing the Tesoro and Chevron refineries.

That’s a good step. It would have been better, however, if he had appointed a representative from the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 150 workers at Tesoro and has a track record of saving refineries, including two last year in Philadelphia.

It’s not too late to add a USW member to the task force. And it’s not too late to save this refinery.

By Pat Koge, Local 12-591 unit chair, Tesoro Kapolei, Hawaii Refinery

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