Energy & Environment

Warren: Lifting oil export ban ‘dangerous’ for environment

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is warning against lifting the U.S. ban on exporting crude oil.

Warren said doing so without first considering the environmental consequences would be a “dangerous” move at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the issue Tuesday.

She said lifting the ban would increase worldwide carbon emissions by almost 22 million metric tons per year.

{mosads}And the senator expressed skepticism of studies she said were funded by big oil companies to push the proposal.

“Big oil may not like that, but the Massachusetts voters didn’t send me here to work for them,” she said.

Warren’s comments come as lawmakers consider bipartisan legislation introduced in May by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to lift the 40-year old export ban in place since 1975.

The bill is co-sponsored by nine other senators, and Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has said her panel will vote on exports before the August recess.

The Energy committee is also weighing a broader energy reform bill that does not include measures on oil exports, but the bills could be combined.

There is also movement on lifting the ban in the House.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is backing similar legislation, and earlier in July, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) said he finds no “downside” to lifting the ban.

While lifting the ban has supporters on both sides of the aisle, many Democrats are balking at the proposal.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) also expressed concerns at the hearing on lifting the ban. He said U.S. gas prices would increase by 18 cents per gallon as a result.

Benjamin Zycher, a scholar at the non-partisan American Enterprise Institute, countered worries about rising gas prices.

“Exports of U.S. crude will increase the supply of crude, therefore reducing the price internationally,” he said. “Low prices internationally will lower U.S. prices.”

Rick Muncrief, president and CEO of oil and gas producer WPX Energy, also said more oil would decrease market volatility.

“This is the first time that the oil industry is lobbying for something that would lower their prices,” Menendez said.

“Sensibility does not seem to extend to our crude oil export policy.”

Tags Elizabeth Warren oil export ban

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