Shots fired in U.S. oil export row

Debate ramps up over U.S. restrictions in place since the 1970s.

By Daniel J. Graeber

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Claims that easing U.S. oil export restrictions won't have economic benefits go against peer-reviewed studies, the head of an oil producers coalition said.

An increase in U.S. oil production has led to calls from industry leaders and their supporters to ease restrictions placed on exports. Crude oil exports are restricted under legislation enacted in response to the oil embargo from Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the 1970s.


George Baker, executive director of the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, said multiple studies have shown lifting the ban would have widespread economic benefits.

"Any claim to the contrary goes against the findings of, among others, the Brookings Institution, IHS Energy, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office," he said in a statement sent Wednesday to UPI. "Moreover, such a claim lacks support from a single independent economic study."

Many of the reports referenced by Baker found there would be some consumer benefits from easing the restrictions, though each found lifting the ban did little to eliminate foreign dependency.


This week, Thomas O'Malley, executive chairman of refining company PBF Energy, said the "only logistical conclusion" to make if the ban were lifted is that oil prices will increase, refiners will reduce gasoline production in response and prices at the pump will increase.

That, in turn, will lead to "voter anger," he said.

U.S. refiners are restricted in terms of crude oil exports, but face few road blocks in terms of gasoline exports. When gas prices at home decline, those in the refinery sector can look for a better price overseas, where some countries pay the equivalent of $10 for a gallon of gasoline. That, in turn, limits the floor on U.S. gasoline prices.

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