Opening statements: US oil export hearing

Below are highlights from the opening statements before the US Subcommittee on Energy and Power. The hearing topic was “H.R. 702, Legislation to Prohibit Restrictions on the Export of Crude Oil.”

Honourable Ed Whitfield

“Americans believe in free trade, and we as a nation have greatly benefitted from policies that allow us to export our products around the world. Everyone from farmers to automakers enjoys the advantages of a global customer base. However, oil remains an exception to the rule. 1970s era restrictions still prohibit most exports of American crude.

“But as we all know, the reasons for these restrictions are no longer true. Most significantly, we have gone from a nation with dwindling petroleum output to the world’s number one producer of liquid hydrocarbons. In fact, American production growth has been so robust that the domestic supply of oil is now outstripping demand. This is especially true for the lighter grades of crude not suitable for most domestic refiners but very much in demand around the world. Allowing American companies to serve this global market would provide substantial economic as well as geopolitical benefits, and that is what H.R. 702 seeks to unleash.”

“Lifting the export restrictions and allowing the market for American oil to extend beyond our own borders could create nearly a million additional jobs, according to an estimate from IHS. Put another way, these are jobs that would already exist today if the export ban was not in place.”

“The economic arguments alone make oil exports worth pursuing, but as with LNG exports the foreign policy benefits are also very important. Our allies around the world have made clear that they would rather get their oil from American than from unfriendly and unreliable suppliers. Every barrel of US oil on the world market is one less barrel that could be sold by oil rich states like Russia and OPEC members. And to the extent we would be supplanting their oil exports, we would also be supplanting their influence.”

Honourable Fred Upton

“America’s energy picture has changed dramatically and this committee has been working hard to keep pace. Clearly times have changed since the 1970s when the oil export ban was put in place. Few back then could have imagined a domestic oil glut that jeopardises new drilling and the jobs that go with it, but that is the situation many experts say we face today.

“The energy sector has been the nation’s most significant jobs creator over the past decade, but with the recent drop in oil prices, as many as 100 000 energy industry jobs have been lost. Proponents of the legislation we are considering today argue that allowing American oil on the global market would boost production and bring back those lost jobs and add many new ones.

“And the demand for American oil is there, especially from our allies who want to reduce their dependence on a market dominated by unfriendly and unstable nations.”

“We need to get this policy right. We need to be certain that any actions taken don't have unintended consequences that negate the benefits. The question of what to do with our incredible resource abundance is a great kind of problem to have.”

Edited from statements by Claira Lloyd

Published on 10/07/2015


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