The 40-year-old ban on US oil exports has officially ended. The repeal of the ban was part of $1.1 trillion spending bill that President Barack Obama signed into law Friday afternoon after the House and Senate passed the measure earlier in the day.
The measure lifting the oil export ban was linked to the legislation on Tuesday. The bill gives the president the authority to halt oil exports for one year if 1) he or she declares a national emergency, or 2) declares that the crude exports are raising US oil prices or causing a domestic oil shortage.
President Obama previously stated his opposition to lifting the ban, arguing that the Commerce Department, not the Legislative Branch, is invested with the authority to amend current export law. However, he considered the bill a success because several Republican proposals that Democrats characterized as “ideological riders” were removed from the bill, including provisions to defund Planned Parenthood, scale back Obama’s environmental agenda, and curb Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
In a press conference Friday before he signed the bill, Obama said it is not exactly what he wanted, but lauded Speaker of House Paul Ryan for a deal that will enable him to collaborate with Congress on new projects. “I’m not wild about everything in it…I’m sure that’s true for everybody,” he said.
The bill allows the US government to continue functioning through September 2016, thus ending the threat of a shutdown in the medium-term. Obama said, “Congress and I have a long runway to get some important things done on behalf of the American people.”
Friday morning, the Senate passed the bill in a 65-33 vote. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday, “Let’s take steps – as the legislation we’ll consider proposed – to support more jobs, more opportunity, and more economic growth…I think it’s legislation worth supporting.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Earlier in the day, the House passed the measure in a 316-113 vote. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the end of the oil export ban a “big win.” Democrats, on the other hand, say it’s a giveaway to oil companies. In return for their support for the legislation, Democrats secured extensions of solar and wind energy tax credits, along with other environmental measures.
House Speaker Paul Ryan
Read Chris Faulkner’s, “Why America Should Not Export Its Oil Now”
In June 2014, the Commerce Department issued private rulings to allow two Texas companies to export lightly distilled condensate to foreign customers. Specifically, Enterprise Products Partners and Pioneer Natural Resources were given permission to sell unrefined condensate to foreign buyers who will convert the condensate to refined products like diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel abroad. This was seen at the time as one of the first moves toward lifting the oil export ban.
The Commerce Department earlier this year green-lighted U.S. crude exchanges with Mexico and has also rewritten regulations governing exports to make condensate legal to sell abroad.
Read About The History Of The US General Ban On US Oil Exports Here