Dems warn of drilling on 'treasured landscapes'

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House Democrats are pushing for a hearing on the U.S. crude oil export ban amid mounting calls from lawmakers to do away with the decades-old policy.

Ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), sent a letter to Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the committee, calling for a hearing on the potential economic, consumer and environmental impacts of lifting the ban.

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The letter — co-signed by House Democrats Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) Rush Holt (N.J.) and Gregorio Sablan (Northern Marianas Islands) — warns a repeal of the ban would incentivize oil companies to drill on "treasured landscapes."

"If removing the crude oil export ban does provide additional incentives for oil companies to drill on our public lands, then sportsmen, recreationists, and communities throughout the American West will be faced with increasing impacts from the oil and gas industry, without the certainty that at least the oil extracted from underneath their feet, from underneath the public’s land, will get used here at home," the letter states.

The letter comes days after the Senate held the first hearing on crude oil exports in nearly 25 years. A number of Republican senators have voiced support for lifting the ban, which was established during the 1970 Arab oil embargoes.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have said they are both willing to explore proposing legislation that would lift the ban, unless President Obama acts first.

Following the hearing, a spokesman for the White House said the administration is "closely monitoring" the changes in domestic oil production and hinted at the possibility of re-evaluating the crude oil export ban.

"We will evaluate policy options as needed," said White House spokesman Matt Lehrich in an email. "The increase in domestic oil production is a good thing and an important part of the President's 'all of the above' energy strategy."

"We are closely monitoring the implications of growing domestic energy supplies, including the economic, environmental and security opportunities and challenges that it presents," Lehrich added.

Calls for ending the ban are coming at a time when U.S. domestic crude oil production is higher than the amount of imports for the first time in nearly 20 years.