Compromise sought to end oil export ban

Supporters of a bill to end the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports are looking to make a deal.

The Hill reported Thursday that the bill’s backers are seeking a compromise package to get it through Congress and signed by President Obama.

Earlier this week, the administration threatened to veto the bill in a statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget.

“Legislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time,” the statement reads. “Rather, Congress should be focusing its efforts on supporting our transition to a low-carbon economy. It could do this through a variety of measures, including ending the billions of dollars a year in Federal subsidies provided to oil companies and instead investing in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies to meet America’s energy needs.”

Getting the measure passed is likely to be complicated as Democrats who have indicated that they might support the Republican-sponsored bill require different enticements in order to do so. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, told The Hill that he would oppose the bill this week despite supporting it in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“I think they can pass the bill Friday without me, but I don’t think they’ll be able to get through the Senate,” Green told The Hill.

Green said he’d had an agreement with the bill’s Republican sponsor, Joe Barton — also of Texas — to amend it later, but that Republicans had rejected one of his proposed amendments.

Senate Democrats’ conditions for support may vary even more. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has long supported ending the ban.

“Declared Democrats? Two for sure,” Heitkamp told The Hill, referencing herself and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. “Willing to talk? Many, many more than that.”

White House opposition remains a concern, but Heitkamp told The Hill she thought the obstacle was surmountable.

“We have had conversations,” she said. “And I think that people who say there’s no way, no how, that they could ever get to yes on this, I think that overstates the White House’s position.”

American oil interests continue to lobby heavily in favor of lifting the ban.

“This is a missed opportunity to demonstrate true leadership while creating U.S. jobs and saving consumers’ money,” Louis Finkel, executive vice president of the American Petroleum Institute said in response to the Obama administration’s policy statement. “This administration needs to reexamine their priorities and work with a bipartisan coalition in Congress on legislation that would help to secure America’s energy leadership for generations to come.”

 

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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