Debate Begins Over U.S. Oil Export Ban

As the debate over the ban on U.S. crude-oil exports heats up, Brad Plumer provides an overview.

The ban, which was intended to mitigate against volatility and price spikes by limiting U.S. reliance on imports, is argued by some to be obsolete.

“The energy landscape today is very different from the 1970s. Domestic production of crude oil is now on the upswing, thanks to shale fracking and other improved drilling techniques.” And currently, “the export ban is actually hurting these upstart producers.”

The three main objections to lifting the ban include:

  1. A concern that U.S. gasoline prices could rise.
  2. An increase in oil drilling could increase overall greenhouse-gas emissions.
  3. Many U.S. refineries like the existing state of affairs just fine — since they can buy oil at artificially low prices and then export the gasoline and diesel abroad at a markup.

“Perhaps most interestingly, Obama’s Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, said he’d at least be open to revisiting the ban: ‘There are lots of issues in the energy space that deserve some new analysis and examination in the context of what is now an energy world that is no longer like the 1970s.'”

“Still, there’s likely to be a fair amount of opposition—some individual refineries dislike the idea, [as do] some Democrats.”

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