Crude Solutions: James Surowiecki on America’s oil refineries

From The New Yorker:

At first glance, there’s nothing unusual about the refinery that Marathon Oil owns in Garyville, Louisiana. Like most refineries, it is in a small town near a port. It can refine two hundred and forty-five thousand barrels of oil a day, which is around the industry median. And the people who live near it have got used to the smell of sulfur dioxide. Indeed, the only thing that’s special about the Garyville facility is that it was opened in 1976. That makes it the last refinery ever built in the United States…

…high gas prices usually provoke one of two explanations: either they’re evidence of a conspiracy or they’re just the result of the free market at work. The good news is that there’s no conspiracy. The bad news is that there’s also no free market.

More here.