Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 10, 2015
An important step forward this week for legislation to end America’s outdated, 1970s-era ban on domestic oil exports: passage of the bill by a U.S. House subcommittee. Next a full committee vote and, perhaps before too long, a vote by the entire House. Yet, challenges remain.
No doubt the full Energy and Commerce Committee debate will be more vigorous. But that doesn’t diminish this week’s historic progress on lifting the export ban – a true relic from America’s energy past. “This has been a long day coming,” said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the bill’s author.
As Barton explained, we’re at this point largely because of America’s energy revolution – the surge in domestic oil and natural gas production resulting from American innovation, technology, shale reserves and hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
Posted September 9, 2015
API has a pair of new ads that drive home the economic and national security reasons for lifting America’s 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil.
The television and online campaign launched this week in a dozen states – including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Virginia – and the District of Columbia. The campaign is part of a broader push emphasizing the importance of updating U.S. energy policies to reflect America’s rise as a global energy superpower.
Posted September 8, 2015
It looks like last week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report pointing out the benefits of exporting domestic crude oil is pushing Washington policymakers closer to ending the 1970s-era ban on exports. McClatcheyDC reports:
Momentum is growing to lift the 40-year ban on exporting U.S. oil to foreign nations, with a federal report concluding that doing so wouldn’t raise gasoline prices. Congress could vote on proposals when it returns from its summer vacation after Labor Day. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said he has “green lights” from the House Republican leadership, and is confident the House will pass a bill on ending the ban this fall. “It is up to this Congress to examine the issue and move towards a better policy that reflects the reality of America today, not the America of 1975,” Barton said in an email.
It may be that EIA’s report marks “critical mass” in terms of how much research backing crude exports is needed to move the needle in Washington – saying, as a number of previous studies projected – that exporting U.S. oil won’t negatively affect consumers and will spur domestic production. EIA’s report addresses the White House’s chief concern, about the impact of a policy change on U.S. energy prices. And this week an important House subcommittee is scheduled to vote on legislation that would lift the export ban.
Posted September 1, 2015
Some quick points from the new crude oil exports study from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):
First, like a series of other studies before it, EIA’s study finds that lifting America’s 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil would not negatively affect U.S. consumers. EIA says:
Petroleum product prices in the United States, including gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude oil exports.
EIA projects that ending the export ban – which would allow shut-in domestic crude to access global crude oil markets – would spur more domestic production. Then the global supply/demand would become “looser,” putting downward pressure on global crude prices, resulting in “lower petroleum product prices for U.S. consumers.
Posted August 17, 2015
Late last week the Obama administration gave the go-ahead for limited domestic crude oil exports to Mexico, a positive move on oil exports – yet one that immediately underscores this question: Why stop there?
According to the Associated Press, license applications approved by the Commerce Department allow the exchange of similar amounts of U.S. and Mexican crude, a swap. The U.S. would send an as-yet unspecified amount of light crude to Mexico in exchange for heavier Mexican crude. AP:
While the Commerce Department simultaneously rejected other applications for crude exports that violated the ban, the move to allow trading with Mexico marked a significant shift and an additional sign that the Obama administration may be open to loosening the export ban. Exchanges of oil are one of a handful of exemptions permitted under the export ban put in place by Congress.
Two things: First, the arrangement with Mexico, while limited in scope, nonetheless is the administration affirming the inherent benefits of trade. The light crude in the deal represents some of the domestic oil that’s accumulating and trading at a discount to global prices, unable to reach the world market because it’s shut in by an outdated, anti-competitive oil exports ban. Second, the U.S. needs to go further.
Posted August 11, 2015
The U.S. Commerce Department’s recent mid-year trade report illustrates how surging domestic oil and natural gas production is helping our economy – and strongly suggests what increased domestic output could do if U.S. crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) had unhindered access to global markets.
According to Commerce, the U.S. trade deficit among petroleum and petroleum products fell 56.1 percent the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2014 (exhibit 9). That growth helped hold the total U.S. year-over-year trade balance steady, even as the trade deficit in non-petroleum products increased 23.1 percent. API Chief Economist John Felmy:
“Despite a very competitive global market, the U.S. energy revolution continues to push our trade balance in a positive direction. Oil imports remain on the decline, and strong exports of petroleum and refined products are creating new opportunities for America to bring wealth and jobs back to U.S. shores.”
For that trend to continue, though, the United States must pursue energy trading opportunities with the same vigor it pursues trade in other areas. A 1970s-era ban on crude oil exports should be lifted, and LNG export projects should be approved by the government so that domestic producers have every chance to access global markets.
Posted August 10, 2015
API has a new series of online ads that underscore potential risks from EPA’s proposal to impose stricter national ozone standards. The ads focus on potential impacts for individual states including Indiana, Colorado, Missouri, West Virginia and Virginia – which could see more than 38,600 jobs lost.
The key message in the ads is that an unnecessary tightening of ozone standards nationally could have dire effects locally, in each and every state.
Posted August 5, 2015
New government stats on falling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electrical power generation point to a good-news story on energy and climate, one that should grab the attention of policymakers nationally and in the states. This is seen in data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Plotting CO2 emissions from the electric power sector from 1988 to this April, EIA reports emissions hit their lowest point for any month in 27 years. This is largely because of increased use of natural gas in power generation – a market choice that’s based on the availability and affordability of natural gas, as well as the fact it is clean-burning.
Posted July 30, 2015
We’ve stressed the economic benefits of lifting the ban on U.S. crude oil exports – GDP growth, job creation and consumer savings – because they’re considerable and would affect virtually every American in a positive way. No less important are the benefits for American security and foreign policy from letting U.S. crude trade freely in the global marketplace. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“Experts across the academic and political spectrum agree that American exports would spur greater U.S. oil production, put more oil on the world market, and reduce the power that foreign suppliers have over our allies. Our ability to strengthen the global energy market against future disruptions will shape events around the globe, adding a key tool to America’s diplomatic arsenal.”
Posted July 29, 2015
The current crude oil export debate basically is about global competition – and whether the United States will stop sanctioning itself and let an American commodity trade freely on the global market.
An irony – we’ll call it the “Iran Irony” – underscores the anti-competitive nature of our outdated ban on oil exports and the strategic shortsightedness of maintaining it.
The “Iran Irony” is this: While the U.S. advances a nuclear deal that would let Iran reemerge as a major oil supplier on the global market – to Iran’s economic and competitive gain – the United States denies itself similar benefits by banning its own crude exports. This is hurting America’s global competitiveness, diminishing the potential positive impacts of America’s rise as an energy superpower.