The Tyler Chamber of Commerce recently passed a resolution in support of lifting the U.S.’ ban on crude oil exports. As a member of the Chamber, we did a little homework on the issue to make an informed decision whether to support or oppose the resolution.

With the low oil prices, many in the oil and gas industry think the U.S. should lift the ban on crude oil exports to provide a boost to the oil industry. But what is the real issue with this hot topic? Here are some facts on the issue:

  1. The U.S. banned oil exports in the 1970s due to a reaction to the 1970s oil crisis.
  2. U.S. oil production has grown rapidly in recent years, according to an article by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, primarily from unconventional shale plays, such as the Texas Eagle Ford and the North Dakota Bakken, which produce light, sweet crude.
  3. U.S. refineries are more equipped to handle heavy crude, which is most commonly produced in Canada, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia.
  4. If the U.S. export ban is lifted, the light, sweet crude produced from unconventional shale plays could be exported to refineries more suited to processing this type of oil.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska thinks the U.S. should lift the ban. In a recent news article, she said, “If the U.S. intends to lift sanctions on Iranian oil, restrictions should be lifted on U.S. oil.” Murkowski said the Obama administration’s deal on Iran’s nuclear program “equates to a sanctions regime against ourselves” by allowing Iranian crude back on the market. Murkoski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

However, others are not so fond of lifting the ban. Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International, testified during a House Subcommittee hearing that “lifting the ban will lead to a hazardous increase in U.S. oil production. This production would in turn likely lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions and threats to public safety.” See the full testimony here. Additionally, some politicians are fearful that lifting the ban will cause a rise in gasoline prices, which many of their constituents would not like.

Even those against lifting the U.S. ban on exporting crude oil recognize it will increase domestic oil production. The question then becomes, is increasing domestic oil production a bad idea?

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About the author

Kate Lindekugel
Kate Lindekugel
As an environmental scientist, Kate has more than 13 years of experience including ecological surveys and field studies, functional assessments, preparing environmental reports and permits, data management, stream channel and wetland restoration, peer reviewed research, and coordinating with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies, as well as public and private stakeholders.