Crude oil export ban should be lifted as part of new American energy strategy

Why does America still have a crude oil export ban on its books? Shades of Jimmy Carter, enough already! Congress should get behind the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015, a bill introduced Wednesday by Senators Murkowski and Heitkamp.

crude oil export ban

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

“The 1970s-era ban on exporting American crude oil is as outdated as the typewriters on which the policy was written. It’s past time for an upgrade,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) as she and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and 11 colleagues from the Senate joined forces to promote S.1312.

Times have changed since 1975 when President Gerald Ford signed into law the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The United States has become the biggest global producer of oil and gas. Fracking shale oil and gas formations has turned America into an energy powerhouse.

Why send America into the ring with one hand tied behind its back? From Texas to Washington and points in between, “energy independence” is the rallying cry.

Make no mistake about it, America is in a battle with OPEC and the Saudis on global energy markets.

“For generations, Americans have been subject to the whims of OPEC and its impact on the world oil market,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “Americans pay more at the pump whenever the world’s supply decreases —whether that is a result of events close to home or decisions made on another continent.”

crude oil export ban

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

American legislators like the supporters of S.1312 want to weaken the grip of Russia and the Saudis on oil markets. Part of that strategy includes tighter integration of Canada and Mexico with the United States, effectively creating a continental energy market.

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick recently participated in a Dallas symposium panel about how to integrate Canada and Mexico into a “US-led North American energy renaissance.”

“A lockstep plan with our North American trade partners and neighbors – focused on the full development of our oil and gas resources, infrastructure, regulatory policies and workforce – would provide North America as a whole with immense, long-term economic growth and the true potential for energy independence,” Craddick said in a press release.

I’ll be interviewing Craddick next week and will discuss her ideas in a Markham On Energy column shortly after.

In the meantime, American oil and gas supporters can throw their weight behind S.1312 by emailing Sen. Murkowski (click here).

Oil and gas industry associations have already sent a letter endorsing the bill and the end of the crude oil export ban.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America, which signed the endorsement letter, says the bill advances American interests as long as the shale oil revolution continues, but allows the federal government to pull back if it falters:

“The Energy Supply and Distribution Act draws a carefully crafted balance by opening the world marketplace to the export of U.S. crude oil while reiterating the authority of the President to constrain exports when compelling national interests require it. This balance assures that the American economy can benefit from the vast crude oil resource base that is now available for development while being protected if there is ever a need to do so.”