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The Consensus is in: It’s Time to Lift the Ban on Crude Oil Exports

With momentum building to modernize our nation’s energy policy to reflect this new era of energy abundance, there is growing consensus that lifting the ban on crude oil exports will protect and create jobs, enhance our national security, grow our economy and provide our allies and trading partners with an alternative when sourcing their energy needs.

To-date, nearly a dozen governors have voiced their support for ending the ban, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Pritzker earlier this year to request her “support and that of the broader Administration for full legislative repeal of the crude oil export ban.” Governor Hickenlooper is not alone. Sharing this position are former secretaries of defense, treasury, energy and commerce, national security advisors, labor unions, editorial boards, economists and think tanks across the political spectrum. Here’s a sampling of what the experts are saying about crude oil exports:

Former Cabinet and Sub-Cabinet Officials Support Crude Oil Exports

  • Larry Summers, former economic policy adviser to Presidents Obama and Clinton: “I believe that the question of whether the United States should have a substantially more permissive policy with respect to the export of crude oil and with respect to the export of natural gas is easy. The answer is affirmative. The merits are as clear as the merits with respect to any significant public policy issue that I have ever encountered.” (Brookings speech, 9/9/14)
  • Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA and Member of Congress: “Too often foreign-policy debates in America focus on issues such as how much military power should be deployed to the Middle East, whether the U.S. should provide arms to the Ukrainians, or what tougher economic sanctions should be imposed on Iran. Ignored is a powerful, nonlethal tool: America’s abundance of oil and natural gas. The U.S. remains the great arsenal of democracy. It should also be the great arsenal of energy.” (Wall Street Journal, 5/19/15)
  • William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense: “A prudent way to support the continued expansion of the U.S. energy sector and our domestic energy security is to level the playing field by relaxing restrictions on American crude oil and LNG exports… For the first time in a half century, President Obama has the opportunity to re-write the energy balance of power in our favor and solidify his legacy on trade. President Obama is the only U.S. president in decades who has had the tool of energy abundance at his disposal; he should use it.” (Time5/27/15)
  • John Deutch, former Undersecretary of Energy, Deputy Secretary of Defense and Director or the CIA: “With U.S. oil production on a long-term uptick, the long-standing ban on direct exports of crude should be abolished… Let’s hope the export ban is lifted with broad bipartisan support. The result will increase U.S. jobs and increase the country’s influence in world oil markets, with little risk of higher gasoline prices for consumers.” (Wall Street Journal, 8/11/15)
  • Bill Richardson, former New Mexico Governor and Secretary of Energy: “New Mexico is like the entire oil patch, is starting to hurt. We’ve got shale, we’ve got oil and gas. Our budget, our education depends a lot on oil and gas royalties. And we’re hurting, because right now, as you mentioned in your dialog, there is an oversupply… This is why it does make sense to lift the oil export ban. It makes no sense. It’s a relic of the 70s and 80s.  Because this will allow us geopolitically to deal with the Russians in Eastern Europe – they use natural gas as a political weapon. (CNBC, 8/7/15)
  • Tom Donilon, former National Security Advisor to President Obama: “The US has consistently opposed efforts by countries to manipulate their exports…By allowing exports, we permit production decisions in the United States to be made fully on the basis of market forces rather than being influenced by artificially imposed regulatory constraints…This in turn will increase diversity of supply, increase competition, reduce volatility and lower prices in global markets.” (Platts, 1/27/15)
  • Gen. Jim Jones, former National Security Advisor to President Obama: “The U.S. finds itself quite surprisingly in a position to show, if we wish, enlightened leadership with regard to energy and global climate…This is in sharp contrast to Russia’s policy of using energy as a blunt instrument of national power and a means of influencing international behavior wherever it can. The U.S. is less vulnerable now than at any time since the 1970s to oil supply disruptions and international price manipulation.  But we have not yet taken the steps to treat energy as a top-rung energy and environmental security issue that it has now become.” (USA Today, 7/27/15)
  • Michèle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and CEO of the Center for a New American Security: “Lifting oil export restrictions will yield a variety of security dividends to the United States. First and foremost, allowing crude exports would further strengthen our economy – the foundation of our national security… Shoring up the United States’ economic position would, in turn, strengthen our ability to play a much needed leadership role in international security and economic affairs. And we should not underestimate the degree to which becoming an exporter could impact perceptions of the United States as a vital global power, helping to discredit erroneous narratives of U.S. decline.” (Congressional testimony, 7/28/15)

Editorial Boards Support Crude Oil Exports

  • Lifting the export ban on crude oil would be a boon to the U.S. economy: “In fact, experts predict gas prices would go down, based on the simple fact that you don’t put raw crude oil in your tank. Consumers don’t buy crude oil. Refiners do. Domestic gasoline prices tend to track international, not domestic, oil prices. So the current policy is great for refiners who get to buy their feedstock at a bargain price and sell their product at an international rate. But it’s not much help to domestic producers, who have to accept less money for the crude they bring to market, or to consumers, who don’t get the savings passed on to them.”  (Washington Post, 8/2/15)
  • Ban on oil exports should be lifted: “Soaring U.S. production — from 5.5 million barrels of crude per day five years ago to 9.2 million today — is one of the major reasons the world price of oil fell so dramatically last year. But U.S. producers could have an even larger impact on world supplies and thus prices if they could directly export oil rather having to refine it here first — particularly because many refineries were set up to handle heavier crude imported from abroad.” (Denver Post, 4/1/15)
  • Oil Export Momentum: “Momentum is nonetheless growing in Congress to pass a legislative repeal, and the EIA report is a powerful new political argument to do so. Supporters can put opponents on the spot to explain why they are against exports that would create more U.S. jobs and cut domestic gasoline prices.” (The Wall Street Journal, 9/1/15)
  • Lift ban on crude oil exports: “The phenomenal output of oil in this country in the past several years has shown the many ways this country benefits from domestic production. Opening the door to crude exports is the logical next step.” (The Tampa Tribune, 9/20/15)
  • Drop oil export ban: “But whatever use there was for an export ban in the ’70s has long disappeared. Congress should lift the ban, starting with a vote in the House set for later this week, and President Obama should sign the measure, either in stand-alone form or as part of a larger deal.” (USA Today, 10/6/15)
  • Outdated oil ban needs to go the way of Pong: “The age of oil scarcity is gone, and its policies deserve a similar farewell. Like playing Pong on an iPhone, it is time for Congress to catch up with the times.” (Houston Chronicle, 7/31/15)
  • How about lifting sanctions on America?: “U.S. law forbids the export of crude oil, as it has since the 1970s. A move is afoot in Congress to lift the ban. After all, once sanctions on Iran are lifted, the U.S. will remain the only major oil-producing country prohibited from exporting its crude.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/12/15)
  • How the government can put Louisianans back to work: “The current ban is the product of the Nixon and Ford administrations, an era when OPEC put a stranglehold on the global oil market and threatened to shut down the U.S. economy. Four decades have passed, and U.S. ingenuity has enabled us to recapture our prowess as an oil producer.” (The Daily Advertiser, 8/4/15)
  • End oil export ban. “Not only would lifting the ban help our economy and boost our global influence, it would also help our political allies.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/23/15)
  • US should end energy protectionism. “Unless the export ban is lifted, the U.S. could face the paradox of a glut of light domestic crude in the Gulf region, even as millions of barrels per day of heavy oil imports are still coming into the country.” (Financial Times, 8/3/14)
  • Seize the day: “Even though fracking has boosted America’s oil output by two-thirds in just four years, the country still bans the export of oil and restricts exports of natural gas, a legacy of the oil shocks of the 1970s—and a boondoggle for American refiners and petrochemical firms.” (The Economist, 1/17/15)
  • For Energy Security, Export Oil: “The way to lessen U.S. vulnerability, however, is not to withdraw from the world oil market altogether (if that were even possible). It’s to sell more of the U.S.’s expanding crude stores abroad. As a bigger player, the U.S. would have a greater influence on price.” (Bloomberg View, 4/6/15)
  • New Mexico senators should pump up Lujan Grisham’s oil vote: “In a changing energy world, where the United States is transitioning to an all-of-the-above energy strategy, does it make any sense to remain bound by a 40-year-old oil export ban because you don’t approve of fossil fuels? Of course not.” (Albuquerque Journal, 10/14/15)
  • Lift the U.S. ban on oil exports: “Like free trade in general, selling American oil overseas would be good for our economy. It would make the oil market more efficient, encourage a build-out of the U.S. energy network and stabilize prices over time for consumers.” (Chicago Tribune, 12/30/13)
  • Lift outdated oil export ban: “Lift outdated oil export ban… Since the 1970s, federal law has prohibited oil companies from exporting most oil drilled in the United States, a ban that was supposed to promote energy independence. It didn’t… because lifting the American ban would probably slightly reduce the world price of oil, and because gas prices follow the world price, lifting the ban could push prices down.” (Boston Globe, 12/28/14)
  • Our energy boom: Export bonuses: “Repealing America’s 1970s-era ban on oil exports is what its shale oil industry needs to continue thriving amid depressed global oil prices — and what U.S. consumers need for lower gasoline prices to continue.” (Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 12/2/14)
  • Lift America’s crude oil export ban: “Leftover from the oil scarcity of the 1970s, the export ban harms consumers, stunts the economy and threatens national security. Additionally, with broad bipartisan support for lifting the ban, there’s no good reason to keep it in place…Lawmakers should press to get rid of this outdated ban and allow the freer flow of such a crucial commodity.” (Detroit News, 8/4/15)
  • Debate on U.S. oil export ban needs to focus on reality: “At that moment, the notion of selling some of our own precious crude oil onto the global market seemed unimaginable. And so, the ban. An awful lot has changed since the disco days. Yet the export ban remains in place.” (Massachusetts Republican, 1/14/15)
  • Further evidence of need to end U.S. oil export ban:  “At the time, the idea was that the United States needed all the domestic fuel it could get. That reasoning doesn’t hold true anymore. The ban has long been obsolete.” (The Oklahoman, 3/8/15)
  • Lift the ban on crude oil exports: “The U.S. is scheduled to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil production. Hydraulic fracturing reinvigorated the domestic oil industry. New markets could mean even more production. And that’s jobs saved and created. Texas’ congressional delegation should be on the front lines in this fight. Congress should lift the ban.” (San Antonio Express-News, 4/21/15)
  • End the export ban: “The US should scrap its antique prohibition against the export of domestically produced crude oil. The sole argument for retaining the export ban is unsound.” (Oil & Gas Journal, 3/8/13)
  • Get the U.S. back in the oil-exporting game: “Get the U.S. back in the oil-exporting game… We agree with the Texas lawmaker [Joe Barton] that the 40-year ban on U.S. crude exports should be repealed. It would be at once good for the U.S. economy and good for national security.” (Orange County Register, 12/17/14)
  • Congress needs to allow crude oil exports: “Lifting that ban would not just help U.S.-based oil producers create more American jobs and revenue, but would give the U.S. considerably more non-military influence in foreign policy.” (Charleston Daily Mail, 5/27/15)
  • Give ’em the gas: “The 40-year-old laws put in place by the United States during the 1970s regarding energy exports need to be reviewed. It’s good to see West Virginia’s senators at the forefront of getting them changed.” (Beckley Register-Herald, 5/21/15)
  • Lift America’s embargo on exporting its own oil: “It all comes back to our original question: On balance, has the Oil Boom been a net plus for North Dakota? For that matter, has it benefited the United States? The answer to both questions clearly is “yes.” Which means Congress should lift the oil-export ban, because doing so would make a good thing even better.” (Grand Forks Herald, 5/14/15)
  • Lifting oil export ban makes sense: “With the restrictions in place, oil companies are pressured by simple economics to fund exploration and development in other countries. With the export ban lifted, those companies would inevitably do more in the U.S.” (Tyler Morning Telegraph, 2/11/15)
  • Prepare now for likely effects of low oil prices: “The situation could be alleviated to some degree if oil producers were given the ability to export crude oil, which has been largely banned since the first oil crisis in the 1970s. This is a controversial subject and any lifting of the ban must come with controls but it might help stabilize the market. We hope Congress gives it thoughtful consideration.” (Longview News-Journal, 1/10/15)
  • Oil Exports Benefit Economy, Diplomacy: “There simply are no good arguments to continue the ban. Republicans, Democrats and President Barack Obama support increasing exports to improve the economy. Why should crude oil be an exception? It’s time to strike the 40-year ban. Give U.S. oil producers a level playing field and American consumers will be the beneficiaries.” (The Intelligencer, 5/29/15)
  • S. should allow crude oil exports: “America will continue to ramp up oil and gas production regardless of limitations on exporting because of the success of fracking and horizontal drilling. It certainly makes sense to export what we don’t need domestically to stabilize the global economy by helping keep energy costs down worldwide.” (Greeley Tribune, 1/10/14)
  • The untapped potential oil sheikdom of America: “Much has changed since the era of Jimmy Carter to make the ban obsolete. Oil men have figured out how to extract the juice from previously inaccessible places.” The untapped potential oil sheikdom of America.” (Washington Times, 10/29/14)
  • Freeing up oil exports: “It really is time to end the prohibition. It never made much sense except to allow politicians to argue that they had done something for American consumers.” (Boston Herald, 1/5/14)
  • Times have changed – and so should U.S. energy policy: “A bill introduced in the Senate would repeal the ban on exports of American oil. Doing that would encourage more domestic drilling, providing even more oil. It would create new jobs. It would allow U.S. diplomats to use energy as a weapon, perhaps aiding our allies.” (Williamsport Sun Gazette, 6/8/15)

NOTE: For a complete list of editorials, click HERE.

Labor Unions Support Crude Oil Exports 

  • Laborers’ International Union of North America supports crude oil exports. “The simple fact is that jobs are being lost and investments are being reduced (or redirected overseas) because American producers are prevented from exporting American crude oil. Major employment opportunities exist for American oil and gas workers in lifting the decades-old ban, and we believe that it is time to update and modernize the country’s approach to the new realities of global energy supply and transportation. In short, we could provide our allies and trading partners with an alternative to sourcing energy from unfriendly and unstable producers by simply lifting this obsolete, forty-year old ban.” (Letter to Congressional Leadership, 9/9/15)
  • International Union of Operating Engineers calls for end to crude export ban. “Updating American energy policy in light of the new realities of domestic energy production is an absolute necessity. That reality is as true for pipeline-infrastructure policy as it is for trade in crude oil. Congress should take this key step to lift the crude-export ban and unleash the economic benefits that a modernized energy policy would yield. We look forward to engaging our members in support of H.R. 702, and building strong bipartisan support to end this counterproductive and obsolete policy by passing legislation in this Congress.” (Letter to Congressional Leadership, 9/9/15)

Former Senior Administration Officials Support Crude Oil Exports

  • Jason Bordoff, Former Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, National Security Council and Founding Director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy: “Allowing exports would make the US more resilient, not less, to supply disruptions elsewhere in the world. Greater integration into global markets would make US oil supply more responsive to international market developments, mitigating the impact on American consumers and the US economy of production losses in other countries.  Lifting crude export restrictions is consistent with past and present US trade policy priorities, would enhance US credibility in current and future trade negotiations, and avoid creating a precedent that could harm US trade policy objectives down the road.” (Report: Navigating the U.S. Oil Export Debate, 1/15)
  • Steve Rattner, former Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and lead Advisor to President Obama’s Auto Task Force: “Energy policy should not be driven by emotion. Paradoxically, the fastest way to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy is to speed the export of crude oil and natural gas.” (New York Times, 7/23/14)
  • Carlos Pascual, former State Department official: “The ban [is] hurting Washington’s credibility on the international stage, particularly on related issues such as free trade, sanctions on Iran and even climate change. “If the basic point is to say to countries that we have to (work) together to put global interests and concerns above short-term domestic action. The only way to maintain credibility is if you do it yourself.” (Reuters, 1/29/15)
  • David Goldwyn, former State Department official: “The U.S. should also be prepared to continue supporting the stability of the global oil market should a supply disruption occur. U.S. domestic production growth has helped keep the global market well supplied and prices stable even as unplanned supply disruptions, including in places likes Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen, have emerged. However, the U.S. could do more, including taking steps to authorize the export of light sweet crude grades that we have in excess, to help keep the global market stable. While promoting global market stability is among the goals of strategic reserves, the United States does not need to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at this time. Instead, it only needs to signal very clearly that it is prepared to export grades of excess crude if disruptions worsen and the global market requires more supply.”  (Congressional testimony, 7/22/14)
  • Trevor Hauser, former Senior Advisor at the State Department: “The original rationale for crude export restrictions no longer applies. Today’s oil market looks very different than in the 1970s when current crude oil export restrictions were first put in place. At that time, the US had adopted domestic price controls to combat inflation and crude export restrictions were necessary to make those price controls effective. While price controls have long since fallen away, crude export restrictions remain.” (Report: Navigating the U.S. Oil Export Debate, 1/15)
  • Elizabeth Rosenberg, former Sr. Advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury: “For our European allies, the presence of more U.S. oil in the market will offer more supply options. This will mean that European consumers look less to Russia, from which they receive roughly 40% of their oil supplies and which has a history of coercive energy supply policies.” (Congressional testimony, 1/19/15)

Academic, Think Tank Community Support Crude Oil Exports

  • Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute: “Allowing U.S. oil to flow into world markets also would enable our friends and allies to diversify their energy portfolio and reduce their dependence on unstable or unfriendly suppliers… U.S. policy should aim instead at promoting energy security. In addition to diluting the ability of any resource-rich nation to manipulate oil prices or restrict supplies, rising U.S. exports would provide a politically stable and reliable source of energy and thereby help to make global markets more resilient against conflicts or natural disasters.” (Daily Beast, 8/28/14)
  • Harvard Business School: “With abundant resources, restrictions on exports created in response to the 1970s’ energy crises are no longer needed, and exports would boost U.S. economic and job growth while benefitting friendly nations.” (America’s Unconventional Energy Opportunity, 6/15)
  • Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy: “Increased US crude production can weaken the economic power, fiscal strength and geopolitical influence of other large oil producing countries. The magnitude of any export policy-driven impact is small, however, relative to recent oil market developments. More important for US foreign policy are the current crude trade relationships retained and new ones created if export restrictions are modified or lifted, along with the potential for greater US diplomatic leverage in future application of sanctions or pursuit of other objectives.” (Report: Navigating the U.S. Oil Export Debate, 1/15)
  • Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center: “The consensus of our task force experts is that the arguments for lifting the crude oil export ban are very strong, based on economic, security, and fair trade principles. Moreover, the combination of these elements would increase US strength and leadership capabilities that are essential to optimizing the foreign policy benefits of the energy boom to a wide range of security and geopolitical interests.” (Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, 7/30/15)
  • Brookings Energy Security Initiative: “We recommend that the U.S. reconsider and modernize its energy policy by lifting the ban on crude oil exports entirely and immediately. It is evident to us, based on our policy deliberations and the extensive macroeconomic modeling of the U.S. economy, and the global oil market research we have commissioned, that the greater U.S. exports of crude oil, the greater the economic and energy security benefit to the country. In addition to the parochial benefits to the nation, as a leader in world trade circles, where the U.S. is a consistent advocate for open markets and transparency, continued restrictions on crude oil exports have the potential to tarnish the U.S. global standing and hinder its pursuit of strengthening energy security.” (Changing Markets Economic Opportunities from Lifting the U.S. Ban on Crude Oil Exports, 9/14)
  • Bipartisan Policy Center: “A key question for policymakers and voters is whether lifting restrictions on crude oil exports will meaningfully affect domestic gasoline prices. In short, the answer is no. Increased U.S. production in recent years has contributed to a far more resilient global market place that is reflected in lower global prices and greater resiliency against supply interruptions… The current restrictions on exporting crude oil are an anachronism. Forged in a bygone era of vulnerability, this policy is now inhibiting our ability to capitalize on America’s energy strength.” (Congressional testimony, 6/2/15)
  • Aspen Institute: “There is an excellent case on policy grounds to end the long-standing prohibition on exports of U.S. crude oil. The economic case for such an action is even more compelling… Lifting the ban on oil exports, which arguably could be done by executive action, is a simple and effective way to support high economic growth, better jobs for a beleaguered segment of the working population and for skilled workers and engineers, and energy self-sufficiency for the United States and its allies. (Aspen Institute, 10/14)
  • Resources for the Future: “All parties can agree that lifting the ban confers some advantages to the United States as a whole. It would improve our trade balance and provide us with greater geopolitical leverage… In this issue brief, we offer economic logic and estimates from our modeling and data analysis suggesting that the price of gasoline will likely fall by around three to seven cents a gallon.” (Crude Behavior: How Lifting the Export Ban Reduces Gasoline Prices in the United States, 3/14)

Governors Support Crude Oil Exports

  • Governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Matt Mead of Wyoming: “The United States oil and gas industry is literally fueling economic growth in our states. Recent studies show lifting the ban on crude exports would create as many as 300,000 jobs nationwide by 2020. LNG exports would also significantly boost employment, adding 155,000 jobs in natural gas producing states and an additional 38,000 jobs in large manufacturing states. Without a change in the federal approach to energy exports, these jobs will be left on the table during a critical time in the nation’s economic recovery.” (Letter to President Obama, 5/27/15)
  • Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D): “As the U.S. recently reached record levels of domestic production of over 9.4 million barrels per day, we believe that continuing to build upon the [Bureau of Industry and Security] decision by ending the outdated and counterproductive ban on crude oil exports is the next logical step to ensuring that domestic producers continue to invest and that energy consumers benefit.” (Letter to Commerce Secretary Pritzker, 4/30/15)

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