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Energy & Environment

Congress Moves Closer To Lifting Crude Oil Export Ban

A bipartisan majority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Thursday to lift 40-year-old embargo.


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On the left, Rep. Gene Green aboard the Noble Energy Bully 1 deepwater drill ship
On the left, Rep. Gene Green aboard the Noble Energy Bully 1 deepwater drill ship

A bill to lift the U.S. ban on crude oil exports has cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee passed the bill (H.R. 702) by a vote of 31-19, with bipartisan support.

The ayes included Congressman Gene Green, a Democrat representing much of eastern Harris County. “You know, in Houston, we’re well aware that the number of layoffs we have with our service industries that are in the oil patch or the natural gas patch,” Rep. Green says, “and they thought that exporting crude oil would help the rig count and help bring folks back to work. And it very well may.”

Lifting the export ban could help U.S. produced crude oil command higher prices on world markets. That’s a concern for Green’s district, which includes much of the region’s downstream oil and gas industry.

“We have the jobs in the refiners and the chemical plants that we use the crude oil and the natural gas as our feedstock,” Green says. “I just don’t want to put them at a competitive disadvantage with other parts of the world.”

Green agreed to support the bill, when his Republican colleagues accepted an amendment that would let the president reinstate the embargo for economic reasons. The bill still faces another markup, before the Foreign Affairs Committee, before it can go to the House Floor for a vote.