Wyden wants to talk about crude export ban, ending crude imports

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) plans to hold a hearing on the mounting debate over the country's policy toward crude oil exports.

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The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hopes to hold a hearing in the first quarter of the year, a top aide to Wyden said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the committee's ranking member, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), released a white paper on the intricacies of the nation's export policy toward crude oil.

Murkowski on Tuesday backed ending the decades-old ban of crude exports, which was established during the 1970s amid the Arab oil embargo.

Wyden isn't so quick to back ending the ban, said Keith Chu, Wyden's aide on the Senate Energy Committee.

"His first question is how would consumers and families be affected by changing our country's policy on oil exports," Chu told The Hill in an email.

"We know energy producers have an organized lobby but Sen. Wyden wants to be sure consumers' interests are protected as well."

And timing is another factor for Wyden. As conversation surrounding exports of crude oil intensifies, Wyden might raise a similar conversation on ending imports.

Currently, the U.S. still imports roughly half of its crude oil. Late last year, the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's statistic shop, reported U.S. crude oil production surpassed imports for the first time in nearly 20 years.