Legislative efforts to lift restrictions on the export of U.S. crude oil continue to progress, but are expected to meet with staunch Presidential opposition. On October 9, 2015, the full U.S. House of Representatives considered and decided in a 261/159 bipartisan vote to pass H.R. 702 – To adapt to changing crude oil market conditions, which seeks to lift the current restrictions on the export of domestic crude oil. H.R. 702 was introduced in February of this year and was passed with amendment by the House Energy & Commerce Committee and sent to the full House for consideration last month. The White House has expressed the administration’s opposition to Congressional efforts to lift the restrictions on oil exports, issuing an October 6, 2015 statement declaring that “[l]egislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time. Rather, Congress should be focusing its efforts on supporting our transition to a low-carbon economy.” If presented with H.R. 702, the President’s advisors “would recommend that he veto the bill,” the statement concluded.
Initiatives by the U.S. Senate also are pending, including S. 2011 – The OPENS Act, which provides for the unrestricted export of domestic crude oil to any country not subject to U.S. sanctions without a federal license, as well as a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Heidi Heitkamp that was passed out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on October 1, 2015. You can read our previous post for more details. In a statement regarding the House vote on H.R. 702, Senators Murkowski and Heitkamp commended the gaining momentum of bi-partisan Congressional efforts to the lift the export restrictions, noting that “House approval of legislation to lift the ban on crude oil exports…sends a strong signal that Congress will lead where the administration has failed.”