Republicans Want To Force Obama To Lift U.S. Oil Export Ban

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Republicans are eyeing upcoming legislation to force a measure on President Obama that would lift the U.S. export ban on crude oil.

“We have antiquated policies that were put in place in the 1970s that prohibit us from exporting our crude oil, yet we have allies around the globe asking the United States to provide them with a stable supply of energy,” said Republican Sen. Cory Gardner at an energy forum hosted by The American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF). “We should change this policy in order for the U.S. to be a global leader and to support our allies by making them less dependent on energy from hostile nations.”

America remains the only major oil producing nation that still bans crude exports, and industry experts are widely critical of its current necessity. OPEC nations have used their position to devastate the industry with low prices, as they compete with Russia and fellow members for market share. With America’s oil industry struggling in the wake of low global crude prices, support to repeal the restrictive policy has been growing.

“The ban on crude oil exports is totally contrary to consistent US advocacy of open markets, ever since the Second World War,” Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The ban retards US development of oil production. The ban could not withstand a legal challenge in the WTO.”

The House of Representatives passed a bill lifting the crude oil export ban in early October, however the promise of a presidential veto all but guarantees the measure won’t be signed into law as a standalone bill.

Instead Republicans will attempt to attach its fate to key legislation that must be passed before the end of the year. Currently the most likely candidate is the transportation bill reauthorizing federal funds for highway and transit programs, reported The Bismarck Tribune.

“It is must-pass legislation, which means it will be hard for the president to veto, and the benefits of allowing crude oil exports are multiple,” Republican Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement, whose home state of North Dakota has been suffering since the oil price slump.

If the Republican push to attach the ban to the transportation bill fails, Sen. Cory Gardner says they will try to put in in the omnibus package expected to pass before years end. Supporters of the plan fear that lifting the ban in 2016 will be impossible due to the polarizing nature of an election year, but opportunities may still exist.

“If the ban isn’t lifted in 2015, it might be lifted in 2016 as part of the implementing legislation for TPP,” Hufbauer told The DCNF.

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