The House of Representatives passed a bill on October 9, 2015, to lift the forty-year-old ban on crude oil exports by a vote of 261 to 159. Twenty-six Democrats joined 235 Republicans in voting "yes" on H.R. 702, which was sponsored by Representative Joe Barton (R-Tex.). Six Republicans and 153 Democrats voted "no".
An obscure provision to raise authorized funding to subsidize U.S.-flagged merchant ships that can be commandeered for military purposes was added to H.R. 702 by Republican leadership in order to increase Democratic support. That caused at least two conservative groups, Heritage Action and Freedom Works, to withdraw their support for the bill.
Although the bill or a similar bill has a good chance to pass the Senate, the White House earlier in the week issued an official veto threat. The statement said: “Legislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time. Rather, Congress should be focusing its efforts on supporting our transition to a low carbon economy. It could do this through a variety of measures, including ending the billions of dollars a year in federal subsidies provided to oil companies and instead investing in [subsidies for] wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies to meet America’s energy needs.”
As Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, drily noted, President Obama did not make this argument when he lifted the sanctions on oil exports from Iran. The United States is now the only oil-producing country that bans crude oil exports.
This piece was originally published in the Cooler Heads Digest. You may subscribe to the weekly digest at GlobalWarming.org.