Senate Dems: Keep oil, gas exports out of trade talks

Two Senate Democrats are urging negotiators to keep a legally binding commitment on U.S. crude oil and natural gas exports out of trade talks with the European Union.

Democratic Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerSenate honors Cleveland Cavs' NBA championship California’s last nuclear plant slated to close Senate rejects gun control background check measures MORE (Calif.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Overnight Healthcare: Dems trying to force Zika vote | White House tries to stall opioids bill for $$ | Free Lyft rides from ObamaCare Overnight Healthcare: New momentum to lift ban on gay men donating blood MORE (Mass.) said the U.S. should "resist" calls from the EU to include language on exports in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks that started on Monday.

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In a letter to Ambassador Michael Froman, a U.S. Trade Representative, the two senators cited documents leaked earlier this year that said the EU was seeking a binding pledge that would mandate automatic crude oil and gas exports.

"An agreement that requires automatic and unrestricted approval of U.S. oil and gas exports to the EU has the potential to harm American consumers, our national security, and our environment," the letter states.

“We request that you clearly and unambiguously oppose any EU efforts to include a legally binding commitment in TTIP that would run contrary to existing U.S. laws by guaranteeing the export of U.S. crude oil and natural gas resources through changes to U.S. export licensing procedures," it adds.

Talk of a repealing the decades-old ban on crude oil exports, which was first imposed during the Arab oil embargoes, has increased in Congress.

A number of Republicans are gearing up to make crude exports a primary topic next year in the House and Senate. However, a majority of Democrats oppose more exports, arguing it would increase costs for consumers at home.

"Decisions impacting U.S. law and energy policy must be transparent and made through the legislative process in Congress, not through trade agreements," Boxer and Markey wrote.