House Republicans: No Agreement on Crude Oil Exports

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
Feb. 6, 2014, 5:04 a.m.

A few weeks ago Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Amy Harder wrote about House Re­pub­lic­ans’ polit­ic­al cagi­ness over wheth­er the na­tion’s crude oil ex­port ban should be lif­ted. Today two House Re­pub­lic­ans made it clear their con­fer­ence hasn’t got­ten much closer to a con­sensus on the top­ic.

“I don’t think there is a sol­id Re­pub­lic­an po­s­i­tion on this right now,” said Rep. John Shimkus, a mem­ber of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee. His com­mit­tee col­league Joe Bar­ton, ap­pear­ing at the same Politico-hos­ted event Thursday, said, “I can de­bate either side of that.”

“From a pure eco­nom­ic stand­point, it doesn’t make sense to have an ex­port ban; let’s elim­in­ate it, and if you are a mar­ket-based per­son, do that,” said Bar­ton, a Texas Re­pub­lic­an and former chair­man of the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee.

“On the oth­er hand, from more of a prag­mat­ic, polit­ic­al [stand­point], a lot of the en­vir­on­ment­al­ists are go­ing to fight us tooth and nail if we try and end the ban. Is it really worth hav­ing that fight?” he asked.

Bar­ton chairs the en­ergy task force of the con­ser­vat­ive Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee and said the ex­port de­bate is alive with­in the group.

“We are go­ing to put out a series of po­s­i­tion pa­pers and also some bills, maybe a com­pre­hens­ive bill, and … one of the things that we are de­bat­ing is wheth­er to sup­port the end of the ban,” Bar­ton said.

Shimkus de­scribed ar­gu­ments on both sides.

One is flatly pro-free-trade on com­mod­it­ies. But he also made the case for ex­pand­ing re­finery ca­pa­city — and the jobs that come with it — so the U.S. could ex­port even more re­fined products rather than ship­ping crude abroad.

“That is what we would rather see, be­cause I think it is more be­ne­fi­cial to the wealth of our na­tion,” Shimkus said.

En­ergy and Power Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Whit­field, R-Ky., said earli­er this week that while his pan­el’s fo­cus is on ex­ports of nat­ur­al-gas right now, oil ex­ports are on the ho­ri­zon.

“I do think the ex­port of crude oil will be an is­sue that is go­ing to be more and more dis­cussed and we’re go­ing to be fo­cused on,” he said.

“Philo­soph­ic­ally, I don’t really have a prob­lem of ex­port­ing crude oil per se,” Whit­field said Tues­day when his com­mit­tee re­leased a pa­per ar­guing that ex­port­ing gas would provide geo­pol­it­ic­al and eco­nom­ic be­ne­fits. “We’re already ex­port­ing crude-oil products any­way.” He ad­ded, though, that it can get com­plic­ated when you con­sider wheth­er gas­ol­ine prices may rise.

He in­dic­ated that when the com­mit­tee does fo­cus on it, le­gis­la­tion to change the status quo is un­likely. “When the time comes, we just want a pub­lic de­bate about it,” Whit­field said.

Amy Harder contributed to this article.
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