A Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard differing opinions July 13 about a House-passed bill that aims to expedite permitting for new refineries. The panel hasn’t slated a vote on the measure, which the House approved June 7.

  Panel Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) called the bill “one of the most constructive things Congress could do,” noting that no new refinery has been built in the U.S. in 30 years. National Petrochemical & Refiners Association President Bob Slaughter said the bill would encourage efficiency in handling permit applications. But S. William Becker, who heads groups representing state and local air pollution program officials, said environmental permitting mandates have been wrongly targeted as a cause for delays. He warned that the bill would add layers of bureaucracy.