With some optimism and a bit of luck, the 40-year ban on oil exports could be on its way out thanks to recent legislation in the U.S. House.
When speaking on the current legislation, Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo stated that “the House is going to pass it.”
The Texas Tribune reported that Cuellar, among the handful of Texans in Congress actively pushing to overturn the ban, acknowledged that other pending issues could limit attention on the ban. Iran’s nuclear arms deal, abortion and the highway bill — plus efforts to avert a government shutdown — are all matters tugging for congressional attention.
Nonetheless, the Red State Democrat feels confident that, at minimum, the House will pass the abolishment of most crude export bans.
“I think this one has some momentum. I’ve talked to [Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee] Fred Upton,” Cuellar said as reported by the Tribune. “It’s a matter of whether it’s a single-shot bill, or whether it’s going to be tied into something. I think it’s going to be tied up to something.”
Many notable Texas entities— including The Texas Railroad Commission— have come out in support of lifting the ban. Earlier in the summer, RRC Chairman David Porter testified before the U.S. Agriculture Committee on the importance and urgency of lifting the federal ban.
The conversation around oil and natural gas export bans stem from the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This piece of legislation was passed as a response to the 1973 oil crisis that caused everything from gasoline shortages to a (fabricated) panic that toilet paper was facing a shortage. However, these were times when big oil producing nations (the U.S. included) were reaching peak productions of their known oil supplies, a fairly different scenario than living in a shale boom revolution. Western Countries were then at the mercy of unfriendly politics in the Middle East.
According to the Tribune, Cuellar said he’s made a deal with U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, who has been leading the push to lift the ban. Barton is to rally Republican votes, while the Culler rounds up his side of political spectrum.
Cuellar stated he was less confident that legislation could wriggle through the Senate, but said recent comments by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid — who told Politico he “sees room for a compromise on the effort” — were reason for optimism.