Dems Seek ‘Comprehensive’ Federal Study of Crude-Oil Exports

Roundtable Discussion on "Expanding Health Care Coverage" Ron Wyden
National Journal
Ben Geman
Feb. 6, 2014, 9:47 a.m.

Two Sen­ate Demo­crats want En­ergy De­part­ment num­ber crunch­ers to launch a broad study of how end­ing the ban on U.S. crude-oil ex­ports would af­fect en­ergy prices and pro­duc­tion levels.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who is out­go­ing chair­man of the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee, and Sen. Maria Can­t­well, D-Wash., sent a let­ter ask­ing for “com­pre­hens­ive ana­lys­is.” The sen­at­ors’ Feb. 3 let­ter asks the En­ergy In­form­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which is the de­part­ment’s in­de­pend­ent stat­ist­ic­al arm, to pre­dict what would hap­pen if “un­lim­ited” ex­ports were al­lowed.

The let­ter from Wyden and Can­t­well, who also sits on the en­ergy pan­el, ar­rives as some ma­jor busi­ness and in­dustry groups are lob­by­ing for the end of dec­ades-old policies that al­low just very small amounts of crude-oil ex­ports. But skep­ti­cism about ex­ports among Demo­crats like Wyden, and in some cases out­right op­pos­i­tion, means that any le­gis­lat­ive changes are quite un­likely any time soon. House Re­pub­lic­ans are still find­ing their way on the top­ic too.

The Sen­ate let­ter ask­ing for new ana­lys­is un­der­scores how the Cap­it­ol Hill battle is in its early phases, and why some ex­port ad­voc­ates hope for near­er-term ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tions to soften the ban.

Wyden and Can­t­well want re­view of how the ex­ports would af­fect na­tion­al prices for crude oil and re­fined products like gas­ol­ine; pro­duc­tion levels and con­sump­tion; and oth­er factors.

However, ex­port back­ers will get a boost soon be­cause Louisi­ana Demo­crat Mary Landrieu, an in­dustry ally who is more bullish on ex­ports than Wyden, is slated to take over the Sen­ate’s En­ergy Com­mit­tee.

The Sen­ate voted Thursday to con­firm Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be am­bas­sad­or to China. Wyden is slated to snag Baucus’s Fin­ance Com­mit­tee chair­man­ship, which in turn is ex­pec­ted to put the en­ergy gavel in Landrieu’s hands.

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