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 BoxerTrucking riders ‘in the mix’ for short-term spending bill Lawmakers praise defense bill's National Guard bonus fix Schumer’s elevation to leader spells trouble for Democrats MORE (Calif.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyThis week: Pelosi's test Dem senators drop objection to FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: FCC chief lashes out at GOP | Obama takes on fake news | Bill would delay new hacking powers 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.