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By Ari Natter
Dec. 1 — The House was expected to vote again on lifting the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports after the House Rules Committee voted Dec. 1 to allow an amendment repealing the trade prohibition to be offered to a broader energy bill.
The amendment to H.R. 8 by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) would repeal the long-standing ban and is similar to legislation (H.R. 702) that passed the House on a 261-159 vote in October under a veto threat from the Obama administration.
Similarly, the White House has issued a veto threat for H.R. 8, meaning Barton's amendment is likely meant to draw attention to the issue, which is a top priority for oil companies such as ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips that stand to benefit from the change.
“It will happen one way or the other,” Barton told Bloomberg BNA. “We want it to happen sooner.”
Debate on the underlying legislation, a broad energy bill which if passed would be the first rewrite of energy policy since 2007, includes a range of provisions, including a measure that would expedite the Energy Department's consideration of liquefied natural gas export projects.
Debate on the legislation was expected to begin as soon as Dec. 2, with final passage as soon as Dec. 3 as the House rushes to complete its work before its winter recess.
Other amendments approved by the Rules Committee include a measure by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), that would require a federal study on the maximum level of volatility “that is consistent with the safest practicable shipment of crude oil,” according to a summary.
Crude oil from the Bakken Shale region in North Dakota is more volatile and flammable than other lighter crude oils, according to a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration study released in 2014, which found the crude oil has a higher gas content, higher vapor pressure and lower flash point and boiling point than other domestic crude oils.
Other amendments to be voted on the House floor include a measure meant to encourage the use of community solar projects by allowing them to be connected to distribution systems and through other means.
Amendments that would have repealed the renewable fuel standard and made other tweaks to the program that mandates billions of gallons of ethanol and other renewable fuels into the nation's motor fuel supply weren't ruled in order by the committee.
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