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Minn. Senators' bill would have oil refineries coordinate maintenance

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Minnesota's U.S. Senators have co-authored a bill that would require oil refineries to report their maintenance schedules to the Energy Department.

The move by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken is meant to prevent surges in gas prices like the one that struck Minnesota last week.

Refineries periodically close for maintenance. But when more than one is closed at the same time, it can lead to supply shortages and price spikes.

Klobuchar complained about such disruptions in a letter to the U. S. Energy Secretary last week.

Until two years ago the Energy Department was publishing the maintenance reports of refineries. At a Capitol Hill hearing this week, Franken confronted an Energy official about the decision to stop making those reports public.

Klobuchar says the bill also asks the Energy Secretary to look into storing more fuel in the upper midwest, which seems especially vulnerable to shortages.

An analyst at GasBuddy.com tells Energy Wire the trend in the U.S. has been toward fewer, larger refineries. He says that makes for a greater impact when one of those refineries is off line.

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