On Thursday, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs voted 13 to 9 on getting rid of the ban on United States crude oil exports.
“The bill is dead”, because of the addition of the Toomey amendment that the White House likely opposes, said Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat of Montana.
“I think this bill has real merit”, Tester said.
Several Democrats on the banking committee disputed the notion that the bill could help allies in Eastern Europe diversify their oil sources away from Russian Federation. Despite the largely partisan committee vote, Heitkamp said she is optimistic that Senate Democrats will support efforts to lift the export ban.
The Heitkamp bill includes removing references to the ban in federal code as well as allow halting exports if it’s not in the interest of national security.
There are a few exceptions to the ban, including for oil exported to Canada and certain types of crude from Alaska and California.
Oil producers and other supporters of lifting the ban, which Congress passed in 1975 when fears about fuel shortages were high, say the restriction will choke the drilling boom as a domestic oil glut grows.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has repeatedly said a repeal of the ban would create jobs, not reduce them. “If too much renewable energy stuff gets attached it could ruin the bill”.
Still, Heitkamp noted Obama has already moved slightly on the issue by allowing export of condensate and crude oil swaps with Mexico.
“Tomorrow you may not see any other Democrats other than me voting for it, but what you will hear is a willingness to have a discussion and address this issue broadly”, Heitkamp said in an interview on Wednesday.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who is co-sponsoring three House bills aimed at lifting the ban, said a vote on the main bill is scheduled for next week and he expects it to pass, adding the most interesting thing will be how big the margin is.