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Congress Ends Oil Export Ban

by Elizabeth Alford on December 21, 2015

Oil companies and conservatives receive a victory as Congress abolished the 40-year ban on oil exports last week.

Related: Oil Export Ban Is Hurting Your Royalty Checks!

Nearly 40 years after President Gerald Ford enacted a ban on the export of all petroleum products, President Obama signed new legislation to repeal the measure.  The ban was imposed during the 1970s as a way for the government to control prices during a time of scarcity, but since 2008, U.S. crude oil output has increase by 81%. This record production is beginning to overtake the industry’s ability to economically process the growing volumes and throughout 2014 producers, think tanks, analysts and government agencies have been aggressively advocating for a repeal on this outdated law.

One such campaign is being led by Continental Resources’ boss, Harold Hamm. Since 2013, he has made more than 30 trips to Washington and held more than 240 meetings with members of Congress or their staffers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hamm and fellow CEOs, Scott Sheffield (Hess) and Ryan Lance (ConocoPhillips) also created a new lobbying group, Producers for American Crude Oil Exports that has worked for the repeal. These efforts paid off as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were able to cobble together a package that gives a little something to everyone.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “While lifting the oil export ban remains atrocious policy, the wind and solar tax credits in the omnibus [bill] will eliminate around ten times more carbon pollution that the exports of oil will add.”

Environmental groups continue to oppose oil exports, but were so caught up in the Keystone fight that they weren’t able to launch an effective campaign against this initiative. But lawmakers were able to strike a deal that pair oil exports with renewable tax credits to make it palpable to liberal interests. In the end, the measure was part of a broader $1.15 trillion spending bill, which will renew solar- and wind-energy tax credits for five years and reauthorize a conservation fund.

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