Crude export ban repeal stays in 2016 omnibus appropriations bill

US House and Senate Appropriations committees unveiled a fiscal 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill that included language to repeal the 40-year-old ban on exports of US-produced crude oil. Both lawmaking bodies were expected to vote separately on the measure before week’s end.

The White House has said it opposes ending the crude export ban. Proponents obviously worked to keep it a broader spending bill that the president would be less inclined to veto.

Republicans hailed hard work on both sides of the aisle to reach a compromise that appropriates $1.149 trillion to keep the federal government operating through Sept. 30, 2016. “The road to this final bill has not been easy, but it has been an open process that followed ‘regular order’ to the maximum extent possible,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.) said.

“While an end-of-the-year Omnibus is not the preferred way to do business…this bill will allow Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty to responsibly fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown,” Rogers said.

Top Democrats on both committees did not issue statements immediately, choosing instead to summarize the 2,009-page bill’s provisions. But leading oil and gas associations and other business groups immediately expressed approval over the export ban repeal’s presence in the larger spending bill.

Cites diligent work

Independent Petroleum Association of America Pres. Barry Russell said the national organization of oil and gas producers applauded congressional leaders from both parties “for working diligently to ensure this bipartisan measure was included in a final funding package.

“By passing this legislation and lifting the outdated exports ban, American producers will be able to compete on a level playing field with countries like Iran and Russia, delivering energy security to our friends and allies, advancing the energy revolution that has revitalized our economy, and providing meaningful benefits to families and consumers across the US,” Russell said.

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi said that his association, which includes offshore renewable energy as well as oil and gas production and service firms, also was pleased that language to remove the export ban remained in the bill. “By passing this legislation and lifting the ban, Congress will set the stage for economic growth, stronger national security, and benefits to consumers all across the US,” he said.

American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said in a Dec. 16 letter to leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, “We are in the midst of an energy renaissance in which American has an abundance of energy. Lifting the ban on US crude oil exports will benefit American consumers and workers. We strongly support passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.”

Meanwhile, National Association of Manufacturers Vice-Pres. of International Affairs Linda Dempsey said, “The ability of manufacturers to export and operate in a modern, global economy has benefited the American economy, workers, and manufacturers for generations. The outdated US ban on crude oil exports is at odds with America's export policy and trade agenda.”

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