White House issues veto threat as House crude export ban vote nears

The White House said senior advisors would recommend that US President Barack Obama veto a House bill to remove restrictions on exports of domestically produced crude oil if the measure reached his desk. “Legislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a formal administration policy statement on Oct. 7.

“Rather, Congress should be focusing its efforts on supporting our transition to a low-carbon economy,” it continued. “It could do this through a variety of measures, including ending the billions of dollars a year in federal subsidies provided to oil companies, and instead investing in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies to meet America's energy needs.”

OMB issued the statement as HR 702 appeared headed for a House floor vote on Oct. 9. “Domestic oil production has grown in recent years, strengthening our economy, supporting new American jobs, and enhancing our energy security,” it conceded.

“The administration has taken important steps to support safe and responsible production growth, including actions to cut methane leaks from oil and gas operations, to protect water quality, and to improve offshore safety in order to protect human lives and the environment from oil spills,” the statement added.

Officials from the Independent Petroleum Association of America and American Petroleum Institute separately were critical on Oct. 7. “In recent weeks, we’ve heard President Obama make a passionate case for ‘leveling the playing field’ for American workers and businesses,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell said.

“However, it's discouraging to see this White House negotiate a trans-Pacific trade agreement and authorize Iran to export its oil, while America’s energy producers are left tightening their belts and shutting down their rigs,” Russell said. “Shouldn’t American companies have the same access to global markets? Repealing the 1970s-era ban on US crude oil exports would do just that.”

API Executive Vice-Pres. Louis Finkel said, “When it comes to energy policy, America is faced with a lack of leadership. In its statement, the administration chose to put politics ahead of American consumers and American jobs. The result is that US producers must sit by and watch as the White House gives Iranian oil producers access to world markets, while Canadian producers are kept away from the US market while they wait for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Not supporting the bill, which US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced on Feb. 4, is “a missed opportunity to demonstrate true leadership while creating US jobs and saving consumers money,” Finkel said. “This administration needs to reexamine their priorities and work with a bipartisan coalition in Congress on legislation that would help to secure America’s energy leadership for generations to come.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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