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Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources seeks to end crude export ban

executive power lift export ban

AK Senator Lisa Murkowski

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) passed a bill that would end the ban on the export of U.S. crude oil yesterday by a vote of 12-10, largely along party lines, reports Reuters. Now that the bill has made it through the ENR, it faces a vote before the full Senate.

If the bill hopes to pass the full Congress, it will need the support of Congressional Democrats, who remain reluctant to remove the ban, citing concerns that doing so may cause the price of motor gasoline to rise. Many studies, including those from Brookings Institute and Rice University, have found that lifting the ban would likely lower the cost of gasoline once WTI was traded in an open market.

ENR Chairman Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has been working to gain bipartisan support for the bill. Most recently, she and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) released an Atlantic Council report called “Empowering America: How energy abundance can strengthen U.S. global leadership” that recommend lifting the ban.

It was Warner’s first signal that he is open to lifting the ban. In addition, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who sits on the ENR committee, said he supports repealing the restrictions, though he did not vote for the bill.

The bill will go before the full Senate after the August break.

Energy Modernization Bill

The ENR committee also passed its broader energy bill, The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, by a vote of 18-4. The bill focuses on improving efficiencies, infrastructure, developing supply, government accountability and conservation.

One of the main purposes of the bill is to speed up regulatory decisions regarding liquefied natural gas (LNG). Under Title II of the bill, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would have 45 days to issue a final decision on any application for the authorization to export natural gas following the conclusion of the FERC’s review.

According to a release from the ENR, the senators hope that the new bill will “save energy, expand domestic supplies, facilitate investment into critical infrastructure, protect the grid, boost energy trade, improve the performance of federal agencies and renew programs that have proven effective.” The end goal of the bill is to provide affordable energy and more functional energy systems throughout the U.S., according to the ENR.

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