Barton introduces bill to remove US crude export limits

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would remove US crude oil export limits that have been in place for nearly 40 years.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chairman Emeritus said he hoped HR 5814 would stimulate discussion at the Energy and Power Subcommittee’s Dec. 11 hearing to examine the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

“The most recent estimates show that the US has more than enough resources to meet our domestic energy needs,” Barton said as he offered the bill on Dec. 9.

“In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, we need to rethink outdated laws that were passed during an era of energy scarcity,” he said. “That is why I am in favor of overturning the ban on crude oil exports.”

Oil and gas industry groups’ reactions to Barton’s bill were mixed. George Baker, executive director of Producers for American Crude Oil Exports (PACE), said its sponsor recognizes what numerous independent studies over the last year have found: Banning crude exports is an outdated policy, and repealing it would help lower fuel prices for consumers.

But Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, said limiting crude exports is not the only barrier to a more comprehensive US energy policy.

“AFPM encourages Congress to look at the topic of crude oil exports as part of an across-the-board review of all trade inhibiting laws, including the Renewable Fuel Standard and the Jones Act,” Drevna said.

An American Petroleum Institute official, meanwhile, said that a Dec. 9 Congressional Budget Office report confirms that removing export barriers for US crude could provide incentives for higher production, make the general economy grow, increase federal revenue, and put downward pressure on gasoline prices.

“The CBO report makes it clear that lifting America’s outdated export restrictions will help to grow the economy and save consumers money,” API Upstream and Industry Operations Director Erik Milito said.

“This is the same conclusion supported by study after study, including those from the Government Accountability Office and the Energy Information Administration,” Milito said. “It’s time for policymakers to embrace free trade, so that we can maximize the benefits of America’s energy revolution.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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