Decades ago an oil export ban went into place in the U.S. As Congress works to pass the omnibus spending bill – probably sometime in the next couple of weeks – it’s anticipated that a rider will be attached lifting that ban. That possibility has oil and gas leaders in gleeful anticipation and environmentalists unhappy.
If the ban is lifted, it is expected the oil and gas industry will see about $22 billion more in profits during 2016, and over the next 10 years approximately $170 billion. That’s a lot to smile about from their perspective.
The environmentalists, on the other hand, as reported at thinkprogress say, “Repealing the ban would result in an additional 515 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year — roughly equal to 108 million more passenger cars or 135 coal-fired power plants. The increase in extraction — primarily expected to come from fracking — will be accompanied by an increase in transportation from the oil fields to the coast, which means more pipelines and more oil trains, which pose additional environmental threats.”
But let’s face it, the oil and gas industry has deep pockets to fund lobbying efforts, they also employ a lot of people, so congressional leaders with oil and gas industries in their districts already have a vested interest in keeping the industry in the black – black gold that is.
But with the climate being a hot topic still and the U.S. committed by President Obama to significantly decreasing our carbon footprint, it’s hard to see how both can work in tandem. The House of Representatives has already passed the initiatives, the Senate has it in committee now, but seems set to also pass it. Will the President agree?
Some proponents believe lifting the ban will help the U.S. become more energy independent, making it less likely our dollars would be supporting terrorist organizations or countries known to offer aid to those organizations. But experts say that is not true. Lifting the ban will simply send more American gas and oil overseas to refineries without the strict regulations to follow that the U.S. has on refineries. Once it’s already outside the U.S., selling it in Europe and other places around the world makes more sense, since the cost of gasoline in those countries is far higher than in the U.S.
Every way you look, someone has an opinion supported by economic, environmental or ideological reasons for what they feel. There is no clear winner other than the oil and gas companies, so it’s no wonder many of the reports coming out of think tanks such as the Brookings Institution should be questioned as they receive major funding from all the big gas and oil companies.