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House votes to end ban on oil exports

From The Hill

The House on Friday approved a bill to lift the federal prohibition on crude oil exports.

Lawmakers voted 261-159 to end the 40-year-old crude oil export ban, arguing that the measure is necessary to help prop of the American oil industry by allowing its product to hit the world market.

Lifting the ban, supporters argued, will increase the global supply of oil and lead to lower gasoline prices for American consumers.

“This bill is a market-based bill: willing-buyer, willing-seller,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said during floor debate on Friday.

“U.S. oil can go anywhere in the world if we allow it to. That is an economic asset, it is a military, strategic asset.”

Members approved a handful of amendments to the bill, including one noting the role that cutting oil consumption plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and another calling for a study on the role expanded exports will have on worldwide emissions.

The House voted down an amendment designed to cut the bill’s increased funding for certain unionized maritime shipping companies.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said he opposed the provision because it was added just before the bill hit the floor this week. Conservative groups like Heritage Action had hit the provision as a “union buyoff.”

The House’s Friday vote was the latest step in the lengthy congressional debate over lifting the export ban.

Republicans broadly support lifting the ban, and 26 Democrats voted with them Friday to do so. Most, though, opposed Barton’s bill, arguing that its economic impact is overblown, that it will endanger jobs in the refining sector. They also cite environmental risks in pumping more oil for exports.

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