Interest groups appeal to Congress on oil exports

Interest groups appeal to Congress on oil exports
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Activists on both sides of the crude oil export ban are making their final pitches to lawmakers before the House votes on lifting the restriction later this week. 

Letters supporting and opposing lifting the ban have poured into Congress ahead of Friday’s vote on the matter. Green groups, industry associations and conservative political groups have said they will score members’ votes on Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonRep. Ron Wright dies after contracting COVID-19 Biden's gain is Democratic baseball's loss with Cedric Richmond Bottom line MORE’s (R-Texas) bill or amendments to it. 

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A coalition of oil groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, encouraged House leaders on Tuesday to support lifting the 40-year-old ban. 

“Lifting the ban on U.S. oil exports will offer our global allies and trading partners an alternative source of energy, shrink global dependence on oil sourced from hostile regimes, and put America on level fitting with all other producing nations,” the letter said. 

In a letter to members on Thursday, the National Association of Manufacturers said the crude oil issue will constitute a key vote this year, writing that lifting the ban would “place the U.S. into compliance with its international commitments and send a strong message to the global community that we intend to honor the basic rules of the global economy.”

The House will vote on the export ban this Friday, and a group of senators is hoping to bring the bill to the floor there soon. The White House has promised to veto the House bill, but supporters hope to find a compromise that will win its support. 

Green groups praised Obama’s Wednesday veto threat. In a letter to lawmakers, 42 such organizations said lifting the ban would have a dire impact on the environment. 

“There is no doubt that repealing or weakening current law, which forbids crude oil from being exported, will significantly increase climate-disrupting carbon pollution at a time when leading scientists and world leaders agree we must urgently reduce these emissions,” the groups wrote. 

In a separate letter, the League of Conservation Voters called the bill a “massive giveaway to Big Oil at the expense of America consumers.” The group said it will score lawmakers’ votes. 

Heritage Action, which opposes a provision in the bill boosting payments for unionized maritime shipping companies, was urging members Thursday to vote for an amendment stripping funding from the bill.

"Rather than passing a strong, principled free-market energy bill, [leadership] allowed the debate to become entangled in a half-billion dollar buyoff for Democrat votes,” spokesman Dan Holler said. “It puts good members in a bad position and distracts from yet another important debate."