Back in the 1970s, when an Arab oil embargo sent U.S. gas prices soaring and created long lines at the pumps, our leaders in Washington set out to protect our energy interests by, among other things, instituting a domestic oil export ban — a ban that exists to this day. But now, 40 years later, with U.S. oil production at an all-time high, it’s time to lift the ban and sell the oil to foreign markets that want it.
Reversing the now-pointless oil export ban would provide a boost to our economy. American refiners are struggling to process U.S.-produced light sweet crude, which is causing it to pile up in storage tanks. But overseas refiners want it. According to one study, ending the oil export ban could lead to $750 billion in investment and boost U.S. oil production by upward of 1.2 million barrels per day. The increased production would not only boost U.S. crude oil prices by an estimated $2 to $8 per barrel, but it would also reduce U.S. gas prices by 1.5 to 13 cents per gallon.
Lifting the ban also would put a whole lot of people back to work. The ban has contributed to declining oil prices, which has caused a 50 percent drop in the number of active rigs in the United States over the past year, as well as a loss of roughly 125,000 oil industry jobs. Exporting U.S. oil to new markets would reverse those numbers.
Not only would lifting the ban help our economy and boost our global influence, it would also help our political allies. Without access to U.S. crude, our friends across the globe are forced to import oil from unsavory trading partners such as Russia. And President Barack Obama’s proposed nuclear agreement with terrorism-sponsor Iran would permit that hostile nation to eventually resume oil sales, as well. Instead of allowing these nefarious nations to control the export market, the United States must provide the world with another option.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says that if the Obama administration “wants to lift the ban for Iran, certainly the United States should not be the only country left in the world with such a ban in place.”
“America is experiencing an energy boom,” he says, “and our policy needs to follow suit.”
Speaker Boehner says our nation’s energy policy has been rooted in a “scarcity mindset” since the 1970s, and he’s right: Oil isn’t as hard to find as it once was. The United States produces enough oil to share it with the rest of the world, and we need to reap the economic benefits.
The first step is to stop banning ourselves from selling it.