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Press Secretary Takes Jabs at Republicans, Energy Subsidies in Media Briefing

The crude oil export ban, a hot topic among industry and American security pundits alike, appears likely to land in the House of Representatives this month. The efforts are a welcome sign for an oil and gas sector that is estimated by Moody’s to generate negative cash flow of roughly $80 billion in 2015. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made an official announcement today, and the measure will face a vote within the month of September.

The bill will likely be received favorably by the Republican-controlled House.

The same can’t be said for the Obama Administration, who claimed it will oppose undoing the 40-year old measure deemed as a “relic” by oil magnates like John Hess. The White House came out against lifting the ban in a press briefing on September 15. Josh Earnest, Press Secretary for Administration, said legislation put forward by Republicans will not be supported.

The White House press secretary also criticized Majority Leader McCarthy for making the bill announcement in front of an organization funded by some of the country’s largest oil producers. “It is pretty clear, once again, where Republicans in Congress and their political benefactors stand when it comes to their energy policy priorities,” he said, later accusing McCarthy of “cozying up to oil interests.”

Earnest added: “I think Leader McCarthy has an opportunity to demonstrate some true political courage where he could go and stand before that organization [in Houston] and actually offer up something bold but also common-sense, which is to end the billions in subsidies that oil and gas companies in the United States already enjoy, and actually use that money to ensure the long-term success of our economy and the energy sector in this country by making important investments in things like wind energy and solar energy — investments that even some of those oil companies themselves have bragged about making.”

Those in support of lifting the ban were quick to criticize Obama’s decision to lift sanctions on Iran. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, expressed disappointment and added: “A good number of prominent studies have indicated that the price at the American pump would actually go down by lifting the ban. Many are asking why the Iranians are now allowed to export crude and only the Americans are denied.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) offered a similar viewpoint.  “The administration has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by opening the door to U.S. exports, creating new jobs, helping American families, and strengthening America’s position as an energy superpower,” said Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the API. “Lawmakers are right to ask why U.S. producers shouldn’t have the same access to global markets that the administration would give Iran.”

Gerard cited a report commissioned by the Energy Information Administration (the principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System) that concluded removing the ban would encourage domestic production and further reduce gasoline costs for American consumers.

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