U.S. on verge of lifting oil export ban
WASHINGTON - A provision to lift the U.S. ban on oil exports is included in a government spending bill, giving North Dakota's congressional delegation hope the 40-year-old ban could be lifted later this year.
WASHINGTON – A provision to lift the U.S. ban on oil exports is included in a government spending bill, giving North Dakota’s congressional delegation hope the 40-year-old ban could be lifted later this year.
“We are two votes and a signature away from getting this done,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., told Forum News Service.
The language is included in the year-end funding bill, which is must-pass legislation, said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
“We have to put it in something that the president won’t veto,” Hoeven said in an interview.
Getting enough Democrats on board with lifting the ban required balancing it with some renewable energy tax credits and the potential for conservation programs, said Heitkamp, who called lifting the ban a “huge win” for North Dakota.
Heitkamp has been working with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to build bipartisan support for lifting the ban for about 1½ years. Heitkamp said while she sponsored standalone legislation that would have lifted the ban, she believed it would require reaching a deal with Democrats through negotiation.
“The thing that has been the most significant step is moving off ‘Hell no we’re never going to do this’ to ‘Let’s see what deal we can put together,’” Heitkamp said.
Heitkamp’s office said a provision in the bill - which was originally included in legislation Heitkamp wrote - was critical to reaching an agreement with Democrats. The provision would give the president the ability to impose restrictions on oil exports for special circumstances such as national security threats or emergencies.
The legislation could get a vote in the House on Thursday. Heitkamp said she’s “guardedly optimistic” it will pass in the House and Senate.
Hoeven said the ongoing discussions for lifting the ban, including his proposal to include it in a transportation bill, put pressure on lawmakers to get it done this year.
Hoeven said lifting the ban will allow the oil industry to compete on a global scale.
“It’s about economic growth, it’s about jobs and it’s about national security through energy security both for ourselves and our ability to help our allies,” Hoeven said.
The White House said earlier this week it opposes lifting the oil export ban, but said it would like to see Congress make investments in renewable energy.
Reuters contributed to this story.