Energy & Environment

Senate panel to vote on lifting oil export ban

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The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will meet within the next two weeks to consider lifting the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said her panel will vote before the August recess, scheduled to start Aug. 7, on a bill that includes oil exports and state revenue sharing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

{mosads}“[Offshore] revenue sharing and oil exports are very keen priorities of mine,” Murkowski told reporters Thursday. “I do a have a bill, it’s a consolidated bill, and it’s my intention that bill will move through the committee markup process before we adjourn for the August break.”

Murkowski has long advocated lifting the oil export ban, arguing that it is outdated and that ending it would help the nation’s economy and reduce the power of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.

She introduced a bill in May along with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and nine other senators to open the United States’ oil market to the world.

Oil producers, amid historically low domestic prices, have endorsed the idea, which would open a much larger market for their product.

But oil refiners, along with some Democrats, environmentalists and labor groups, argue that ending the ban would increase domestic energy prices and spur more demand for oil.

For those reasons, Murkowski left oil exports out of the broad energy bill she introduced Wednesday with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the panel’s top Democrat, who is waiting for more research on the issue before taking a formal position on it.

The oil export legislation will be combined with three bills to increase the amount of money states get from offshore drilling in federal waters on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and around Alaska.

Gulf states currently get a small share of the royalties from drilling off their shores. There is no federal-water offshore drilling off Alaska and the East Coast, but it could start within the next decade.

The three offshore drilling bills would also mandate that the federal government offer more areas in the outer continental shelf for drilling.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is sponsoring similar oil export legislation in the House. It also was excluded from the House’s broad energy bill unveiled this week.

Tags Lisa Murkowski oil oil exports
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