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Oil Export Push Well-Funded Machine

Think tanks behind the effort to repeal the ban get at least $1 million from industry per year.

The push to ease the ban on U.S. crude oil exports is a well-funded effort akin to a presidential campaign in terms of its political machinery, a report finds.

Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate have moved various pieces of legislation meant to end the ban placed on U.S. crude oil exports after Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the 1970s blocked their exports to the United States in response to Washington's support for Israel.

A report published in The New York Times finds the effort is a well-funded initiative supported in part by major Washington think thanks, like the American Enterprise Institute. The Brookings Institution, the report finds, was backed with more than $1 million a year by supporters of lifting the ban.

Louis Finkel, executive vice president for the American Petroleum Institute, told the newspaper the push to repeal the ban was a "campaign-style" movement on par with a major presidential campaign.

The Times finds API spent a considerable portion of its $70 million annual advertising budget on pro-export efforts.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office finds authorizing U.S. crude oil exports under a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, would increase the price of U.S. crude oil by around $2.50 per barrel during a period ending in 2025.

Those in the refining sector, who oppose lifting the ban, said consumers would take on most of the increase in the price per barrel through the price they pay for gasoline, which is about $1 per gallon less than when crude oil sold above the $100 mark last year.

Jay Hauck, executive director of the Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy, or CRUDE, coalition, told the Times the crude oil export debate has become part of the fabric of the emerging political landscape.

"Nothing happens by coincidence in Washington," he said. "It is all very coordinated and scripted."

A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found some overseas refineries aren't designed to handle the lighter oils from the United States. Hauck said potential trade partners need U.S. fuel, not U.S. crude oil.

Published on:
October 6, 2015
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