Congress' Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing in April on the potential consumer impact of the shutdown of oil refineries, including three refineries in the Philadelphia area that represent half the refining capacity in the Northeast.

"Rising gas prices coupled with decreasing refining capacity on the East Coast raise serious questions about our ability to ensure an adequate supply of affordable fuel for American consumers," said Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), chairman of the committee. The hearing will be at 2:15 p.m. April 26 in Washington at a place to be announced later.

Philadelphia-area refiners say they're shutting down production because the business is unprofitable; they say there are too many refiners serving a declining U.S. market for motor fuel even as they have to pay higher prices for imported crude. Sunoco Inc. has shut down its Marcus Hook refinery and says it will close its Philadelphia refinery by July 1 if it can't find a buyer. ConocoPhillips Co. shut its plant in Trainer last year.

- Andrew Maykuth