Murkowski Says It ‘Makes Sense' to Have Oil Export Bill in Broader Energy Package

Energy and Climate Report provides current, thorough coverage of clean energy, efficiency, and climate change legislation, regulation, policy, legal developments, and trends in the U.S. and...

By Ari Natter

May 14 — The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said May 14 that she is inclined to include standalone legislation that would end the 40-year ban on the export of domestic crude oil as part of a broader energy package the committee is drafting.

“I’d like to have it in there,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters. “It just makes sense in there, as part of the bigger, broader energy updating our architecture.”

The bill, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S. 1312), released May 13, is scheduled to be the subject of a June 4 hearing on “energy accountability and reform,” along with other bills that could end up in the broader energy package, which is expected to be unveiled later this summer.

In addition, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is expected to introduce a separate standalone bill repealing the crude oil export ban to be considered by the Senate Banking Committee, Murkowski said.

Heitkamp, the lone Democratic co-sponsor of S. 1312 along with 11 Republican senators, is a member of the Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over export controls and foreign trade promotion.

Her legislation will be combined with S. 1312 “to make sure our legislation to lift the ban is as strong and comprehensive as possible,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

We're “just making sure we are covering all of our bases,” Murkowski said, adding that she plans to co-sponsor Heitkamp's bill.

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Murkowski and other Republicans on the committee, said a final decision on whether to include S. 1312 in the broader energy package is expected after markups begin in June.

Prohibition Called ‘Mind-Boggling.'

Murkowski's legislation is supported by companies that include ConocoPhillips, Hess Corp. and Marathon Oil Corp. and opposed by refiners such as Alon USA, Monroe Energy, PBF Energy and Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

The legislation, which would authorize exports of all crude oil and condensate produced in the U.S. without a federal license, comes amid surging U.S. production of crude oil due to the advent of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

“The whole idea that oil exports would still be prohibited is mind-boggling,” Murkowski said at a May 14 forum held at the Center for a New American Security.

While the export of refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel are allowed, energy law enacted in 1975 following the Arab oil embargo barred the export of crude oil except in limited cases, such as exports to Canada.

“The time is now,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor. “Study after study has shown this will not raise our gasoline prices.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com