Week ahead: Time to lift the oil export ban?

A Senate committee plans next week to broach an idea that had been considered unthinkable for decades: lifting the nation’s ban on crude oil exports.

The ban was established in the 1970s during the Arab oil embargoes. Talk of abolishing the ban has become more frequent in the administration and among lawmakers since late last year.

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Now, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has agreed to hold a hearing on whether the ban should be ended.

On Thursday, the committee will “explore opportunities and challenges” associated with lifting the ban.

Wyden likely won’t be as quick as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking member on the committee, to back ending the decades-old ban.

“His first question is how would consumers and families be affected by changing our country’s policy on oil exports,” Keith Chu, Wyden’s aide on the Senate Energy Committee, told The Hill earlier this month. “We know energy producers have an organized lobby but Sen. Wyden wants to be sure consumers’ interests are protected as well.”

Wyden could also raise the question of ending imports as the discussion over crude oil exports intensifies.

The Senate committee will hear from Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, which is a major oil producer in North Dakota’s Bakken region, and Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy expert with the University of California.

Other witnesses include Delta Air Lines senior executive Graeme Burnett and Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow with the Center for American Progress.

Also on Thursday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing examining catch limits for fishing and other provisions that would be reauthorized in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

On the House side, the Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday will mark up a bill from Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) that aims to reign in what the GOP claims is “overreach” by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It will be a busy week off Capitol Hill.

The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit focused on solar energy research, will issue its jobs report for 2013 on Monday.

On Tuesday, the National Council for Science and the Environment will hold its 14th national conference on science, policy and environment, with a focus on developing solutions to climate change.

And the Woodrow Wilson Center will host a discussion on Wednesday surrounding findings from a new report titled, “In Search of Arctic Energy.”