Lawmakers Push to Lift Export Restrictions

February 13, 2014

Some lawmakers are pushing to lift oil export restrictions, says Roll Call.

With a U.S. oil boom in full swing thanks to the North Dakota shale and oil production in Texas, support is emerging to lift oil export restrictions that have been in place for years.

Republican strategist Michael McKenna of MWR Strategies says that President Obama is going to be facing increasing pressure to allow for exports.

  • "If you don't start exporting here shortly, you're going to wind up in a situation where you're going to have to shut in some production. It's going to be difficult for the administration to explain why that's a good idea," McKenna said.
  • Just as the president has faced large amounts of pressure from environmental groups not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, McKenna says that the same groups will be pressuring Obama to keep the export restrictions in place.
  • McKenna also said that if the president does not act, companies will lay off workers and states will lose tax revenue.

Jorge Pinon, director of the Center for International Energy and Environment Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, said that if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, it would "allow us to negotiate a much better price" with oil producers in Mexico and Venezuela. Said Pinon, "By having access to that Canadian crude, you have now a new economic incentive to export crude oil," which he said would most likely be light shale oil.

Leonard writes that imports of light crude oil have dropped in recent years along with the increased shale production in the United States, saying that it was not clear whether there would be enough of a world demand for the light oil. Pinon noted that while countries across the Pacific Ocean might want the light oil, Canada prefers heavy oil, as that is what its refineries are set up to handle.

Source: Randy Leonard, "Keystone Pipeline Approval Could Shift Dynamics of Crude Export Debate," Roll Call, February 4, 2014.

 

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