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Lifting Oil Export Ban Would Benefit Oil Industry at Consumers’ Expense

TysonSlocumsmStatement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Note: Today, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee approved a bill to lift the country’s 40-year-old crude oil export ban. Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, has testified (PDF) before the House Small Business Committee on why lifting the ban would be harmful.

Today’s vote reflects the oil industry’s sophisticated and well-funded campaign to overturn 40 years of energy policy so companies can enjoy increased profits from exported oil at the expense of higher prices for American consumers.

The oil industry has led an expensive media and lobbying campaign to persuade lawmakers to repeal the limit on exporting U.S.-produced crude. Their reason for seeking the law’s repeal is simple: The ban confines oil producers’ ability to sell their product for higher prices to foreign markets.

The industry has claimed that repealing the ban is necessary because oil market dynamics have changed since the law was adopted; that allowing exports would lower gasoline prices for Americans; and that exports could provide geopolitical benefits for American national security and our economy. In fact, none of these things would happen if oil exports were permitted.

Instead, lifting the export ban would erode domestic surplus stockpiles and allow domestic oil producers to sell oil oversees for higher prices than what they charge in the U.S. This would result in higher gasoline prices for U.S. motorists and small businesses. Furthermore, ending the oil export ban would do little to advance perceived U.S. geopolitical interests regarding Russia, China and elements of the Middle East without simultaneously impacting energy supplies and prices in the U.S. market.

When this bill comes up for a full House vote, we urge representatives not to fall for the industry’s misinformation campaign and to protect consumers by upholding the oil export ban.