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U.S. House Puts Oil Industry Ahead of Consumers by Voting to Lift Oil Export Ban

Oct. 9, 2015

U.S. House Puts Oil Industry Ahead of Consumers by Voting to Lift Oil Export Ban

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

Note: Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to lift the country’s four-decade-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, the House dealt a setback to American consumers and our environment. Lifting the four-decade-old crude oil export ban means that consumers will see higher prices at the pump while the oil industry will see increased profits in their pockets.

The oil industry has led an expensive media and lobbying campaign persuading House 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 overseas 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 towards Russia, China and elements of the Middle East without simultaneously impacting energy supplies and prices in the U.S. market.