Many in Congress Ready to Lift Oil Export Ban

“A repeal would increase fracking, putting communities at even greater risk of air and water pollution and earthquakes,” Keever said. “The escalation in crude by rail and ship would increase the frequency of exploding trains and oil spills across the country and in international waters. And lifting the ban would open the floodgates to more crude oil extraction and the burning of petroleum products, which would worsen the impacts of climate disruption.”

The ban is crucial, Keever said, “to keeping dirty, dangerous, climate-disrupting fossil fuels in the ground where they belong.”

Allied Progress, a grassroots research organization, reported that lawmakers who voted to lift the ban have received $11.5 million in contributions from the oil and gas industry during their congressional careers.

“It wouldn’t be a stretch to say they’ve been bought and paid for by big oil,” said Karl Frisch, the group’s executive director. “Repealing the crude oil export ban could raise gas prices by more than a dime per gallon. It could send thousands of good-paying jobs overseas to foreign countries. Our hope of achieving American energy independence – something virtually every member of Congress has called for – could be squandered for generations to come.”

Some independent refiners who fear exporting crude will cut into their businesses have helped establish an organization, The Crude Coalition, that opposes repeal.

“Studies show that American consumers are benefiting from export restrictions in the form of lower fuel prices,” the coalition said on its website. “Now that the price of oil has plummeted, some producers are clamoring to lift the ban, because they believe they can command higher – not lower – prices.  And higher domestic crude prices simply mean higher fuel prices for all Americans.  Higher domestic crude prices mean higher prices for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil.”

U.S. refineries, the group argued, “have the capacity to process all of America’s light tight oil for the foreseeable future.”

On the other side, oil interests expressed pleasure with the outcome.

“There’s a growing bipartisan mandate in both the House and Senate to bring America’s vast resources to the global market and harness America’s potential as an energy superpower,” said Louis Finkel, executive vice president for government affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. “This legislation will reverse a decades-old policy and strengthen America’s edge against competitors like Iran. It makes no sense for the U.S. to restrict its own exports while the administration works to let Iran export its crude.”