Cornyn urges Obama to end ban on crude oil exports

Noting that US President Barack Obama said completion of the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement demonstrates he is a pro-trade president, US Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Obama should repeal the 40-year-old ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil as well.

“It’s hypocritical that despite his self-proclaimed pro-trade stance, he refuses to do something that should be a no-brainer when it comes to any proponent of free trade: opening up foreign markets to the things that we make and produce here, like lifting the antiquated ban on exporting crude oil,” Cornyn said in Nov. 4 remarks on the Senate floor.

“By refusing to revise this outdated policy, the president continues to contribute to the flat line of our economy and to deny our potential as an energy powerhouse,” Cornyn said. “And, I might add, at the same time by not acting to lift this export ban, the president continues to deny our allies the energy they need for their economic security and to improve their national security.”

The White House threatened to veto HR 702, which the House passed by a 261-159 vote on Oct. 9, if the measure ever reached Obama’s desk (OGJ Online, Oct. 8, 2015). “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. The bill was referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Oct. 19.

Cornyn noted that ending the crude export ban not only would strengthen the domestic economy and could save consumers money, but also would give the US an opportunity to promote stronger ties worldwide. “Last month, a strong bipartisan vote was had in the House of Representatives to vote to overturn this ban,” he said. “Now it's time for the United States Senate to do the same.”

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) separately introduced bills earlier this year that would repeal the crude export ban. Their prospects of being taken up for floor debate are not certain.

“We know that this president, with not much time left in his administration, is looking for a legacy accomplishment,” Cornyn said. “But this president's inconsistency with respect to free trade gives me great pause. I have to say, he can’t take my support, or I believe the support of others in this chamber, for the Trans-Pacific Partnership for granted—particularly if he acts so inconsistently on other free trade measures like lifting the crude oil export ban.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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