Lifting the ban on crude-oil exports would benefit major oil companies and hurt Americans, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said in a letter to President Obama on Monday.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz suggested last week that it was time to revisit the ban on crude-oil exports, which has been in place since the 1970s and restricts exports of the fuel in most cases. “Those restrictions on exports were born, as was the Department of Energy and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, on oil disruptions,” Moniz said at a forum hosted by Platts.
Menendez, who has tried without success to repeal tax breaks for major international oil companies, joins Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., in raising concerns over the prospects of exporting crude oil. Menedez said in his letter that lifting the ban could increase gasoline prices in the United States.
“When Congress first enacted limits on crude exports in the 1970s following the oil embargo, these laws were designed to enhance American energy security and protect U.S. consumers from volatility and price spikes,” Menendez said in the letter. “Despite changes in the global energy market, these goals should remain priorities in our nation’s energy policy. Easing this ban might be a win for Big Oil, but it would hurt American consumers.”
The concerns raised by Menendez and Markey are the first vollies in what’s expected to be a protracted and politically tricky debate over whether Washington should allow exports of crude oil. Right now the U.S. only exports a small amount to Canada.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has scrutinized the administration’s approval of projects to export natural gas, signaled a cautious willingness to debate the crude-oil ban.
“Senator Wyden is aware our country will have a debate over exporting crude oil in the near future,” spokeswoman Samantha Offerdahl said in an email to National Journal. “He’s willing to consider all policies and all options, so long as he sees evidence that those policies will result in clear benefits to the American consumer.”
Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the committee plans to hold a hearing on the broader issue of geopolitics and oil and natural gas early next year, likely January. She is also slated to give a major speech on fossil-fuel exports also on January 7, according to her office.
What We're Following See More »
"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.
"A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College," chief among Michigan's John Conyers, who "held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president. ... The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.