(TRNS) — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has been prodding President Obama for weeks to end the federal ban on U.S. crude oil exports.
She was at it again during a Senate hearing this morning, noting that Obama has the power, himself, to end the ban — a nod to Obama’s new strategy to use his executive authority to act when he can’t muster bipartisan cooperation in Congress.
“We should send a powerful signal to the world that the United States is ready to reassert its role as a leader on energy,” Murkowski said.
Many people I speak to are unaware that the United States is not allowed to export oil produced here. A perfect example is the belief by some that connecting the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico won’t significantly reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil since much of the oil will be shipped overseas.
Completing the pipeline will, in fact, enable the U.S. to export more energy, but it will come in the form of refined gasoline, not crude oil. CNN has more on what our export picture would look like should the Obama administration OK the final leg of the pipeline.
Murkowski says ending the ban on oil exports would strengthen the U.S. economy and ease the global oil market.
“Opening up world markets to U.S. crude oil will lower the global price, which will in turn lower the global prices for petroleum products,” she said. “All things equal, the American consumer will benefit from this interaction, as will those Americans employed directly and indirectly as a result.”
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama noted that oil imports are at their lowest level in two decades, a fact he attributed to his decision to allow more drilling on domestic lands. Obama also pledged to try and cut red tape to help natural gas companies to build factories.
“If extracted safely, [natural gas is] the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change,” Obama said.
Republicans applauded the president’s remarks, and advised him to pressure Senate Democrats to vote on the House-passed Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which they say “would cut red tape to ensure that pipelines can be built to connect our growing natural gas supplies with the new manufacturing plants you spoke of in your speech.”
However, one area where critics have hammered Obama is his record on offshore drilling. In fact, just this week Shell Oil announced that it is abandoning plans to begin drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this summer. Murkowski blamed the decision on the “administration’s failure to provide regulatory and permitting certainty for oil development in the Arctic.”
“Just this week, the president claimed that he was committed to an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, but clearly that is not the case in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “The fact is that all of the increase in oil production the president touts has come from state and private lands – not on federal lands, and certainly not from Alaska.”
The Senator also lamented a recent federal circuit court ruling, which, according to the Anchorage Daily News, “agreed with environmental and Alaska Native groups that the federal government underestimated how much oil drilling would happen when it sold the leases in 2008.”