LID TIME: U.S. Votes to End Oil Export Ban

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Washington, October 13, 2015 | comments


The industry won a major victory when a bill by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, to end the ban passed 261-159, with 26 Democrats joining 235 Republicans in favor. On Wednesday, President Obama’s administration issued a veto threat, so two-thirds of the House and the Senate must back the legislation to override the president.


“This is a vote to level the playing field for US workers and businesses who should be allowed to compete against foreign oil suppliers like Iran and Russian Federation”, said George Baker, executive director of the coalition of more than a dozen oil companies, which also includes Marathon Oil Corp., and Apache Corp. USA production, particularly growth in shale plays, contributed to a global supply glut, and oil prices have been cut in half compared to their highs of 2014.

Advocates of HR-702 argue that as the USA is now among the top oil-producing nations in the world, the export ban no longer makes sense. The oil industry drove the US economic recovery, and it can help again – if President Obama will let it.

Oil export advocates cast the legislation as a relic of the 1970s – when an OPEC crude embargo prompted gas lines and rationing in the United States – and said it doesn’t match with today’s surging domestic production. Not the case. If the Democrats would like to throw out the federal tax code and replace it with a new, simpler one that eliminates loopholes, deductions and exemptions, we’d be the first to sign on in support. To avoid more devastating impacts of global warming, including extreme weather events like we’ve been experiencing here in New York, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to 100 percent pollution-free energy.

Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas says the issue shouldn’t be partisan at all – it’s about creating jobs and lowering prices. Navigating successful passage of a bill through the Senate is likely to be much trickier than winning House support. “It will help our allies overseas that are begging for our oil for stability while hurting those that wish us harm”, Pearce said in a statement. In fact, successful oil companies might be the best people to make those investments because they understand what it takes to consistently deliver power to the grid. Furthermore, the sanctions relief provided under President Obama’s misguided deal with Iran allows them to export their oil around the world. “What the White House said was not ‘No way.’ It was: “‘We’d rather do it a different way” than my bill does”.

Democrats are under political pressure from a coalition of refiners who benefit from keeping the crude oil in America. By lifting the ban, the United States can begin supporting our allies and, in turn, weaken Russia’s grip on many European countries.

The bigger profits to be gained from exporting crude oil would incentivize companies to drill more in the U.S. That means more oil contamination of our domestic environment – see, for example, the increasingly frequent oil-hauling train explosions – and more Carbon dioxide emissions when that oil is inevitably burned.

Republicans and the petroleum industry have been pushing for months on legislation to lift the 1970s-era ban on exporting crude.


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