GOP lawmaker wants Obama to offer oil export exemptions

GOP lawmaker wants Obama to offer oil export exemptions
© Getty Images

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Man charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty Two women could lead a powerful Senate spending panel for first time in history MORE (R-Alaska) is urging foreign countries to petition for exemptions to the 40-year-old U.S. ban on crude oil exports from the United States.

Murkowski argued in a Tuesday report that the Obama administration should use its executive authority to approve exports to U.S. allies.

“Exempting certain countries on a case-by-case basis, as the statutes and regulations currently allow, would be a partial and helpful step toward the modernization of U.S. energy policy,” said the report from the Republican staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Murkowski is chairwoman.

ADVERTISEMENT

The report suggested countries like Poland, the Netherlands, Japan and South Korea should be considered.

President Ronald Reagan used his authority to allow oil exports to Canada, and Murkowski is urging more exemptions.

“Many U.S. allies and trading partners are interested in purchasing American oil to diversify away from Russia, Iran and other problematic sources,” the report says.

“Allowing such shipments would send a powerful signal of support and reliability at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions in much of the world. The mere option to purchase U.S. oil would enhance the energy security of [these countries] even if physical shipments did not occur.”

The report argues that action by Congress to lift the ban would be the most effective step. But lawmakers don't appear ready to make that move.

Murkowski has long argued that Congress needs to lift the oil export ban, enacted in the 1970s amid an Arab oil embargo and the prospect of domestic shortages.

She and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have sponsored a bill to end the prohibition. They argue it would bolster the U.S. economy, lower prices and help U.S. allies.

The day before Murkowski released her report, the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, which represents workers at various oil refineries, wrote a letter to the Senate asking that the export ban be kept.

“Lifting the ban would not only prove detrimental to the jobs of the men and women employed at U.S. refineries, but also to the communities that rely on the tax base generated,” the groups said.

“Lifting the crude oil export ban will also increase greenhouse gas emissions, hampering our nation’s efforts to combat climate change and lower U.S. emissions,” they wrote.