From Military Bases to Oil Refineries
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
In a speech Wednesday at the National Small Business Conference in Washington, President Bush proffered the idea of converting closed military bases into oil refineries. He promised to "direct federal agencies to work with states" to spur refinery-building and "to simplify the permitting process for such construction."
The president didn't get to the specifics, saying only that refinery construction "will help assure supply and reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy." He also made a much-needed call to revisit the issue of nuclear power to meet the country's energy needs. To the extent that the base-to-refinery option is viable from a business standpoint, the politics and the economics are both intriguing.
Politically, base-closure has been acrimonious since 1977, when Congress began requiring the secretary of defense to submit closures and realignments for its approval. The move won't end the haggling in Congress, but it promises that localities will at least look a little harder at a refinery option. The Pentagon has success stories in the new airports, industrial parks and commercial spaces springing up on old military bases in the last two decades. …