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Crude Oil Exports Enhance National Security

According to a new report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), lifting the ban on crude oil exports from the United States would enhance our national security by growing the American economy while providing a secure and strategic source of energy to allies abroad. Some of the key findings of the report, authored by Elizabeth Rosenberg, David Gordon, and Ellie Maruyama, found that U.S. crude oil exports would:

  • Strengthen the U.S. economy. Promoting U.S. crude oil export today would encourage efficient and open markets, diversify the global oil supply pool, and contribute to domestic economic growth and the U.S. balance of trade. It would ease the mismatch between the abundance of light quality domestic oil and of refineries oriented mainly to heavy oil by giving U.S. producers more access to markets abroad.
  • Promote open markets. Increasing oil export would make the United States a more important trading partner for more energy consumer abroad, which would expand its role and leverage in international strategic relationships. When more of the supply pool comes from producers, such as those in the United States, that do not suffer threats from political instability or imminent danger to critical energy infrastructure or supply lanes, the overall market is more stable.
  • Cultivate sanctions leverage. One of the most important security benefits of lifting the crude export ban is the additional flexibility and leverage it would give to the United States to sustain and expand energy sanctions. […] The United States will be in a stronger position to impose future energy sanctions, if necessary, if it promotes free trade in energy. In so doing, policymakers would make it possible for U.S. producers to expand production more easily to substitute for global supplies unavailable due to sanctions.
  • Support allies. Greater U.S. oil export would be strategically significant for our allies, offering price and market access and stability benefits, and representing an important show of support. This would be true for Canada and Mexico, which are among the most significant U.S. trading partners, as well as allies overseas. For our European allies, the presence of more U.S. oil in the market could, over time, help reduce their reliance on Russian oil.
  • Expand America’s high-tech advantage. Removing U.S. oil export restrictions is an investment in the ‘laboratory’ that the U.S. oil patch provides for energy technology development. It would stimulate capital expenditures and research and development to improve well productivity and oil recoverability.

The report goes on to conclude:

Promoting the export of crude oil from the United States is an important step toward sustaining and expanding the benefits of U.S. energy abundance. It would also send a powerful strategic signal, indicating to international counterparts and economic planners that the United States plans to lead in the energy arena for years to come.

In conjunction with publishing this report, CNAS hosted an event this week with number of foreign policy and national security experts, including CNAS CEO and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, who stated in her opening remarks that:

[Oil exports] would deepen our strategic ties with key allies in Europe and in Asia, and it would give the United States additional leverage in the imposition of sanctions against adversaries.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, who introduced legislation this week that would allow crude oil produced in the United States to be exported, emphasized the connection between crude oil exports and national security in her keynote speech at the event:

There are few issues really that intersect as clearly and neatly as national security and energy…. I am concerned with the national interest here, that’s what this discussion is all about. The whole idea that oil exports would still be prohibited to me is just mindboggling at times.

This CNAS report joins a growing body of research from academic institutions, think tanks and government agencies which have found that lifting the ban on crude oil exports will both enhance our economy and national security. Learn more about these studies and reports by visiting www.OilExports.com.

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