WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A consortium of oil producers in the United States said it welcomed the introduction of a bill that would ease restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, introduced a bill Tuesday that would remove all restrictions on the export of crude oil from the United States. Output from U.S. shale, he said, has placed the country as the top oil producer in the world and laws governing the market don't reflect that position.
"The most recent estimates show that the U.S. has more than enough resources to meet our domestic energy needs," he said. "In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, we need to rethink outdated laws that were passed during an era of energy scarcity."
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, estimates total U.S. oil production at around 9 million barrels per day, a 13 percent increase from last year.
George Baker, executive director of the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, said he applauded Barton's legislation, saying the U.S. policy on exports is no longer relevant.
"Repealing the ban will unleash domestic energy producers to compete in the global oil market, while paving the way for more jobs, investment, innovation, and growth for American workers and consumers," he said in a statement sent to UPI. "It can also strengthen our national security and enhance our geopolitical standing in the world."
EIA last month introduced an online tool to track oil imports into the U.S. market. In a brief announcing the oil import tool, the administration said it was part of its ongoing effort "to assess the effects of a possible relaxation of current limitations on U.S. crude oil exports."
U.S. legislators restricted crude oil exports in response to the oil embargo from Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the 1970s. There are no limitations of the export of petroleum products like gasoline and, more recently, some companies have started exporting an ultra-light form of domestic crude oil called condensate, found largely in U.S. shale basins.
The fate of Barton's measure, introduced in a lame-duck session where Democrats still control the Senate, is uncertain.