U.S. Chamber CEO: End Ban 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.
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Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Jan. 8, 2014, 6:14 a.m.

The head of the na­tion’s most power­ful busi­ness group said Wed­nes­day that he fa­vors end­ing the ban on U.S. crude-oil ex­ports, join­ing the na­tion’s top oil-lob­by­ing group and some seni­or law­makers who want to end the dec­ades-old lim­its.

“I want to lift the ban. I just want to get it done in a reas­on­able se­quence,” said Tom Dono­hue, pres­id­ent and CEO of the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce.

He said the lim­its won’t be re­moved “overnight” but pre­dicted, “It is go­ing to hap­pen.”

Dono­hue, ad­dress­ing re­port­ers, did not say how much lob­by­ing and ad­vocacy muscle the group will put be­hind its po­s­i­tion.

His re­marks ar­rive a day after the top Re­pub­lic­an on the Sen­ate’s en­ergy pan­el and the Amer­ic­an Pet­ro­leum In­sti­tute called for end­ing the stat­utory and policy lim­its im­posed after the OPEC oil em­bargo of the 1970s.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Tues­day that the White House should use its ad­min­is­trat­ive dis­cre­tion to al­low crude ex­ports amid sur­ging do­mest­ic pro­duc­tion, but that Con­gress should act if the ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t.

Dono­hue spoke to re­port­ers after mak­ing his an­nu­al State of Amer­ic­an Busi­ness speech.

Kar­en Har­bert, who heads the cham­ber’s en­ergy pro­gram, said in an in­ter­view that the group would ul­ti­mately like to see Con­gress lift the ex­port ban.

But she ac­know­ledged that’s un­likely to hap­pen in an elec­tion year and said the White House should be­gin al­low­ing more ex­ports un­der ex­ist­ing ad­min­is­trat­ive powers.

“In the in­ter­im, the ad­min­is­tra­tion does have the au­thor­ity to chip away at this where they de­term­ine it is in our na­tion­al in­terest,” said Har­bert, pres­id­ent of the cham­ber’s In­sti­tute for 21st Cen­tury En­ergy.

The En­ergy De­part­ment pre­dicts the U.S. will pump 9.3 mil­lion bar­rels of oil per day in 2015, the highest level since 1972.

“The mar­ket has changed so sub­stan­tially that it is now in­cum­bent upon us to real­ize, and the Amer­ic­an pub­lic to real­ize, that oil ex­ports are in our na­tion­al in­terest,” said Har­bert, who was a top ad­viser at the En­ergy De­part­ment dur­ing the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We have a mis­match between what we are pro­du­cing and what our re­fin­ing ca­pa­city is, and our re­finers are not go­ing to ex­pend a tre­mend­ous amount of cap­it­al to meet this. We need to ad­just to these mar­ket in­ef­fi­cien­cies, which will be­ne­fit the Amer­ic­an con­sumer over time,” she said.

Har­bert, like her boss, Dono­hue, isn’t pre­dict­ing the U.S. will open the taps to ex­ports quickly, but she said, “The time to be­gin the dis­cus­sion is now.”

Pro­mo­tion of en­ergy ex­ports, in­clud­ing li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas and coal, will be part of a broad­er “En­ergy Works for US” ini­ti­at­ive the cham­ber’s en­ergy in­sti­tute will un­veil next week, she said.

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