Crude Oil Export Battle Flares With Dueling Reports

Picture released, 12 December 2007 by the Norwegian Coastal Administration showing an aerial photo of the tanker Navion Britannia which was loading oil from a loading buoy and left a major oilspill in Statfjord, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the Norwegian coast. According to preliminary estimates from the Petroleum Safety Authority, some 3,840 cubic metres, the equivalent of 24,150 barrels or 3,220 tonnes of oil, had spilled into the sea.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
March 3, 2014, 10:04 a.m.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says his­tory is on her side as she presses the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­lax re­stric­tions on U.S. crude-oil ex­ports.

The Alaska Re­pub­lic­an, in a re­port is­sued Monday, cata­logues cases in which Pres­id­ents Re­agan, George H.W. Bush, and Clin­ton al­lowed some ex­ports des­pite the gen­er­al U.S. pro­hib­i­tion im­posed after the 1970s Ar­ab oil em­bargo.

“The his­tor­ic­al re­cord is clear that the ex­ec­ut­ive branch re­tains the au­thor­ity to per­mit crude oil ex­ports un­der cer­tain con­di­tions,” the re­port states.

“Even stat­utes that gen­er­ally pro­hib­it the ex­port of crude oil con­tain pro­vi­sions that per­mit the pres­id­ent to au­thor­ize ex­ports un­der cer­tain con­di­tions,” it adds.

Murkowski, the top Re­pub­lic­an on the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee, is­sued the re­port ahead of her Monday af­ter­noon speech at the big IHS CER­AWeek en­ergy con­fer­ence in Hou­s­ton.

In Janu­ary, she began call­ing on Pres­id­ent Obama to re­lax lim­its on crude-oil ex­ports.

But that ef­fort faces push­back from some Demo­crats.

In a let­ter to Obama in late Janu­ary, Demo­crat­ic Sens. Ed­ward Mar­key and Robert Men­en­dez chal­lenged the idea that fed­er­al of­fi­cials have stat­utory lee­way to re­lax cur­rent policies that only en­able ex­ports in lim­ited cir­cum­stances.

And Monday, the en­vir­on­ment­al group Oil Change In­ter­na­tion­al is­sued a re­port that con­cludes that al­low­ing ma­jor U.S. oil ex­ports would worsen cli­mate change.

“Al­low­ing U.S. crude oil ex­ports will res­ult in in­creased profits that will in turn res­ult in in­creased oil pro­duc­tion,” the re­port states, ar­guing that pro­du­cers would be­ne­fit from high­er prices they can fetch in mar­kets out­side the U.S.

“While the ex­act amount of in­creased pro­duc­tion is de­pend­ent on a vari­ety of factors in the oil mar­ket, this ana­lys­is demon­strates that the av­er­age pro­jec­ted in­crease in oil pro­duc­tion caused by re­mov­ing the ex­port ban would re­lease the equi­val­ent of the life­time CO2 emis­sions from 42 coal plants,” the Oil Change In­ter­na­tion­al re­port states.

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