Contain Iran with a decision to lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports, supporters say. Photo by Ali Mohammadi/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- With Iran expecting to return to the global energy market, U.S. allies need a reliable source of crude oil in the way of exports, a production supporter said.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled hearings Wednesday on the implications of a nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany.
Supporters of the agreement, which gives Iran widespread sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear assurances, describe it as a victory for diplomacy. Opponents worry about potential national security concerns for the United States and its allies in Israel.
George Baker, executive director of the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, said lifting a 1970s ban on domestic crude oil exports would send a de facto message of support for energy security overseas.
"Providing our allies and trading partners with a reliable and stable alternative to Iranian crude is in our national interest and enhances our national security," he said in an emailed statement. "Achieving this shared goal is possible by fully repealing the crude oil export ban."
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power scheduled a vote Thursday for a resolution meant to adapt current legislation to meet current market conditions.
Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., issued a joint statement ahead of the scheduled vote saying the measure adds momentum to the call to lift the ban on crude oil exports.
"The benefits of lifting the ban are many -- it would boost domestic energy production, create jobs, and improve our energy security," they said. "We can also help our allies around the globe who are desperately seeking a safe and secure supply of energy."
Opponents of lifting the ban question many of the economic benefits touted by supporters. Foreign refineries aren't configured for the lighter grade of crude oil dominant in the United States, so overseas allies need U.S. fuel more than U.S. crude oil.
Jay Hauck, executive director of the Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy, released polling data Wednesday suggesting Republicans in key battleground states like Illinois and Pennsylvania are less likely to support calls to lift the ban. Pennsylvania voters in particular told pollsters they were concerned about potential job losses that could result from lifting the ban.
A report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds removing the ban would at most lead to an increase in U.S. crude oil production of around 450,000 barrels per day by 2025. Gasoline prices would be unchanged or, at best, slightly reduced.