Energy & Environment

Khanna bill would ban gas exports during price spikes

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of large oil companies’ business practices, is set to introduce legislation Friday that would ban the export of refined gasoline products during domestic spikes in gas prices.

The legislation would restrict exports during any seven-day period where the national average gas price is $3.12 a gallon or higher.

Khanna’s office said in a statement that the legislation will specifically apply to gasoline products, which are predominantly exported to Latin America, and will not affect diesel exports, which have become a lifeline for European nations ending the use of Russian fuel.

“While Big Oil is reporting obscene profits this week, American families are struggling to afford gas at the pump. These companies should not be allowed to profit by exporting gas to other countries while we struggle with increased prices here at home,” Khanna said in a statement shared early with The Hill. “My bill will temporarily restrict exports as long as prices are above the average price in 2019.”

U.S. gas prices are down from their summer peak, which saw record U.S. highs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the OPEC+ bloc of nations announced weeks ago that it will cut production by some one million barrels a day, driving fears of another pre-Election Day price hike. Khanna explicitly framed the legislation as a counter to any increased demand that outpaces oil production.

The measure is unlikely to pass Congress, but its introduction opens a new front in efforts to lower gas prices and put restrictions on oil companies. U.S. appeals to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations failed to budge them on production increases.

Khanna has also long been a proponent of a windfall tax on oil profits, as well as a backer of President Biden’s criticism of the industry’s steep profits amid the Ukraine invasion.

“When we did something similar in 1980, it led to a decrease in prices, and actually an increase in production for the first few years in the 1980s,” Khanna said in June. “If you look at the graphs of the prices and production in the early 1980s, this argument of how it’s going to have a negative effect is just not true.”

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