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House Votes To Repeal US Crude Oil Export Ban

The measure passed the Republican-led House on a largely party-line vote. The White House has threatened to veto the measure, should it pass the Senate as well.

The House of Representatives has approved a bill (HR 702) to lift the 40-year U.S. export ban on crude oil exports, by a vote of 261-159.

“Pro-fossil fuel legislation tends to attract most of the Republican conference and some oil-and-gas-related Democratic members, and it usually comes around the 260 mark. So it’s not all that unusual to see a vote like this, but it is largely a partisan vote,” says Scott Segal, a partner in the Washington office of Bracewell & Giuliani, a law firm heavily focused on the energy sector.

The ayes fall well short of what would be needed to override the veto President Obama has promised, should the bill reach his desk. Still, Jim Krane of Rice University’s Baker Institute says a compromise may be possible.

“The Obama Administration is definitely not immune to free trade arguments,” Krane says. “Oil is probably the most tradable commodity globally, and it’s kind of bizarre that we have a ban on it. You know, if there were some concessions in a bill, that maybe extended subsidies for renewables or some other sort of environmentally friendly concession, then maybe he’d go for it.”

Lawmakers who support the bill say the ongoing boom in oil and gas drilling has made the 1970s-era restrictions obsolete. Opponents say the bill would mainly benefit big oil companies. The measure now goes to the Senate.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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