WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Congressional moves to repeal a crude oil exports ban are irrelevant because those decisions rest with the Commerce Department, the White House said.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a measure to lift a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The ban was enacted in the 1970s after Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries briefly stopped exporting oil to the United States because of Washington's support for Israel.
"The ban on exporting crude oil imposes an estimated $200 billion - $600 billion cost to the U.S. economy, discourages crude oil production, prevents the creation of jobs, and causes higher gasoline prices for U.S. consumers," he said in a statement.
The White House said it opposes the bill because it's largely a moot point
"We are opposed to this bill, and the reason that we oppose the bill is because this is a decision that actually can be made and should be made, in our view, by the Commerce Department," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said after the bill passed.
Two companies received permits last year from the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, to export an ultra-light form of oil called condensate from the U.S. market. Processing steps mean the lighter form of oil, found in some U.S. shale basins, doesn't qualify as crude oil under the terms of U.S. law.
BHP Billiton, which this week pressed for ending the ban in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in November it concluded that condensate taken from the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas was legally eligible for exports.
Earnest stressed the White House position on legislative action to overturn the ban was well known.
"I don't have a specific veto threat to offer at this point," he said. "But our position on this bill is crystal- clear."