Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently acknowledged that it may be time to lift the ban on exporting crude oil, a comment that elicited a flurry of support and opposition toward the idea and highlighted the need for a thorough debate on the issue.
The ban was enacted in 1975, along with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as an energy supply security measure in response to the Arab oil embargoes. Since that time, the US energy landscape has changed and many are calling for a review of potentially outdated policies. “Those restrictions on exports were borne, as was the Department of Energy and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, on oil disruptions,” Secretary Moniz told Platts. “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.”
While the decision to lift the ban belongs to the Department of Commerce, not the Department of Energy, many members of congress are weighing in on the issue. In a letter to President Obama, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said: “Crude oil produced in the U.S. should be used to lower prices here at home, not sent to the other side of the world… As you know, the world price of oil (otherwise known as the Brent crude price) is currently about $110 per barrel, while the American price is about $97 per barrel.”
Should the ban on crude oil exports be lifted? What would be the economic and national security impacts of lifting the ban?
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