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By Ari Natter
May 19 — Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is co-sponsoring a bill to lift the ban on the export of domestic crude oil, the first time the lawmaker has come out in favor of lifting the trade prohibition, Jonathan Kott, a spokesman for the senator, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.
Manchin is the sole Democratic co-sponsor of the American Crude Oil Export Equality Act (S. 1372) introduced May 19 by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in conjunction with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I have been very involved in ongoing discussions about exporting crude oil and addressing the many concerns about a potential price increase for American consumers,” Manchin said in a statement. “This bill provides triggers to stop exports if gas prices increase or if our economy is adversely affected. Lifting the ban on oil exports will also improve our national security interests by reducing our trade deficits, neutralizing countries like Iran that extract the same types of oil as the United States, expanding our competitive edge in a global marketplace, and providing a stable source of energy to our allies so that they will no longer be dependent on undemocratic regimes.”
In addition, the bill would give the president the ability to impose restrictions on oil exports, like licensing requirements, for up to one year under certain special circumstances, such as national security threats, emergencies and sustained crude oil shortages, a bill summary said.
The legislation also would require the Government Accountability Office to analyze the impact the lifted oil export ban is having on energy production across the country, consumers, independent oil refiners, as well as shipbuilders and ship repair yards, the summary said.
Supporters of lifting the trade prohibition include companies such as Hess Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and ConocoPhillips. Opponents include refiners such as Alon USA, Monroe Energy, PBF Energy and Philadelphia Energy Solutions.
The bill, which has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee, will be merged later with a separate crude oil export ban repeal bill (S. 1312) introduced by Murkowski March 13, Heitkamp said in a statement.
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