Oil Refineries? Not in Our Backyard

As prices continue to soar at the pump, critics are pointing fingers in many directions, citing big oil's giant profits or China's increased oil consumption, among other things. But some experts say it's the United States' own fault for not refining black gold into gasoline faster.

Crude oil that comes out of the ground is pretty much useless until it is made into gasoline (search), but the oil refineries that turn the crude oil into gasoline are ugly, dirty and dangerous.

Environmentalists, neighborhoods and even the government are fighting to keep them out of Americans' backyards. A new oil refinery hasn't been built in the United States in 29 years.

"We're operating, particularly during the summer periods when we have peak consumption periods, we're operating, essentially at 100 percent of capacity. So there is no spare refining capacity," said Edward Murphy of the American Petroleum Institute.

While business blames red tape for the shortage of new refineries, critics say oil companies prefer it that way so they can gouge customers.

"We've seen that the industry does not have any incentive, really, especially the big oil companies, to build any new refineries or expand their existing ones because they're making so much money," said Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen.

But now, the Environmental Protection Agency (search) has approved a permit for a new refinery near the Arizona-California border to refine oil into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Environmentalists protested the new refinery, but the plan is expected to proceed.

Click on the video box above for a complete report from FOX News' William LaJeunesse.