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Standoff over government climate study provokes national uproar by scientists

A top House lawmaker’s confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science. [ NOAA chief tells lawmaker: No one will ‘coerce the scientists who work for me’ ] So far, NOAA officials have resisted Smith’s demands, and the showdown has escalated. The lawmaker has threatened to subpoena Commerce Secretary Penny […]

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Report: Senators voting against EPA rules received more coal industry cash

Legislators opposing new Environmental Protection Agency efforts to mitigate climate change have received large sums of cash from the coal industry, according to an analysis released Thursday by Maplight , an independent research group that tracks the influence of money in politics. Maplight’s analysis compared coal industry donations to two groups of senators: those who recently voted to block new EPA regulations designed to limit greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, and those who voted to leave the rules intact. The group of senators who opposed the EPA rules “received, on average, 17 times as much money ($75,802) from the coal mining industry compared to senators voting against them ($4,464)” over the six year period beginning in April 2009 and ending in March of this year, Maplight said in a statement. EPA rules mandate that states cut power-plant emissions by 32 percent , compared to 2005 levels, by the year […]

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Climate scientists to be grilled by congressional investigators, but their e-mails are still off-limits

The U.S. Capitol behind the natural gas and coal fueled Capitol Power Plant. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News) Scientists and top officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have agreed to start interviews akin to depositions this week with House investigators, who are demanding to know their internal deliberations on a groundbreaking climate change study. But the interviews may not be enough to placate the chairman of the House science committee, a global warming skeptic who last week stepped up the pressure on the Commerce Department to comply with his subpoena for e-mails that NOAA has refused to turn over. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) wants thousands of e-mails among scientists and NOAA’s staff of political appointees that he thinks will show that the researchers had something to hide when they refuted claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the past decade. [ Congress demands climate change documents as […]

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Hoeven tries again to erase oil export ban

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., says he’ll try to work language into a highway funding bill that would lift a ban on crude oil exports. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 13 (UPI) — A Republican senator from North Dakota said he was working to insert language in a highway-funding bill that would lift a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven , R-N.D., told oil industry leaders gathered in Williston, a city at the heart of the state’s shale oil boom, that lifting a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports would help support the state’s industry workers . "That’s why I am working to include legislation lifting the ban in the new highway bill that Congress is on track to pass," he said in a statement. Washington enacted a ban on domestic crude oil exports after Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum […]

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Murkowski: Why no oil swaps with Mexico?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a supporter of repealing a U.S. oil export ban, asks Commerce Department if any oil swaps have taken place with Mexico. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski , an advocate for repealing a 40-year-old ban on oil exports, said she wants to know why no oil is getting to Mexico under a swap deal. The U.S. Commerce Department in August granted a request from Mexican energy company Petroleos Mexicanos, known also as Pemex, to swap as much as 100,000 barrels of U.S. crude oil per day for refining. Legislation enacted in response to an oil embargo enforced in the 1970s by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forbids the export of crude oil. The Commerce Department agreement requires Mexico to refine the crude oil at home and forbids re-export to other nations. Similar agreements are […]

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Why lifting oil export ban can help U.S. foreign policy

A service truck drives past an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, November 1, 2014. A House of Representatives bill is due to go to the floor this week, one step closer to lifting the 40-year-old ban on the export of U.S. crude oil. The window of opportunity was opened by the continuing plunge in oil prices, now at a six-year low, as falling demand and booming production have created an overabundance of global supply. Congress must seize this opportunity: Lifting the ban on crude oil export would not only be good for the economy, it could also benefit U.S. foreign policy. U.S. firms have been unable to export crude oil since 1974 — a legacy of the energy security fears in the wake of the Arab oil embargo. The only exceptions are crude oil exports to Canada, and oil produced in Alaska. There […]

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NYT: Oil export push well-funded machine

Effort to repeal ban on U.S. crude oil exports akin to a presidential campaign, the New York Times reports. File photo by tcly/Shutterstock WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) — 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 […]

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Ending the U.S. oil export ban is an empty gesture

Both the House and Senate are considering measures that would lift a ban on the export of U.S. crude oil that has been in place since 1975, the height of the Arab oil embargo. Ending the 40-year prohibition may seem counter-intuitive in an era of global supply glut and collapsing prices. For oil producers and lawmakers from oil-producing states, repeal is seen as a way to find new markets for American energy and bring back jobs to districts that have been hard-hit by the excess supply. While many Republicans, including presidential candidate Jeb Bush, have come out in favor of the idea, most Democrats, including President Barack Obama, are lukewarm, if not opposed. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said last month that she worried about the potential harm to the environment of lifting the ban, and would only support a measure if it’s accompanied by concessions. These could include renewable […]

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Oil Industry Gaining in Push for Repeal of U.S. Ban on Petroleum Exports

Photo Jack Gerard, left, the president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, with Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, after a Crude Oil Export forum in September. Credit Zach Gibson/The New York Times After watching the price of oil and the size of their profits plunge, a dozen top executives from some of the nation’s largest oil exploration companies flew to Washington late last winter on an urgent mission: push Congress and the White House to allow unlimited exports of American crude oil. Now, their long-shot lobbying effort to repeal the 40-year-old export ban has gathered considerable momentum. Approval by the House is expected in the coming weeks and two Senate committees have already endorsed the idea. The White House and Senate Democrats may still move to block it, but the fact that the legislation is even moving ahead in an era of extreme gridlock affirms […]

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Crude export ban bill sponsors expect movement soon in Senate, House

Sponsors of US Senate and House bills to repeal the 40-year-old ban on exports of US-produced crude oil expect their measures to move ahead soon. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), said the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee planned to mark up her bill, S. 1372 , on Oct. 1. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), meanwhile, said his measure, HR 702 , could reach the House floor the following week. Congress could complete work on a final bill and send it to the White House by yearend, both federal lawmakers told a Sept. 30 Trans-Atlantic Energy Security Forum hosted by LNG Allies. “Stay tuned. I think this issue is moving,” Heitkamp said. She noted that she remains the main Democratic cosponsor and a strong supporter of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alas.) bill, S. 2011 , which also aims to repeal the crude export ban. But Heitkamp […]

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House Democrats Keep Door Open to Crude Exports, Seek Sweeteners

House Democrats said a measure to repeal decades-old U.S. restrictions on crude oil exports needs more environmental and consumer protections to win their backing. The Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the measure by a 31-19 vote Thursday, sending the legislation to the full House of Representatives. Three Democrats joined 28 Republicans voting in favor. A floor vote could come as soon as the end of the month. The bill cleared the committee with one amendment, which would allow the U.S. president to reimpose export restrictions during a national emergency. “I frankly don’t see what’s in this for the average American,” Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the panel’s Democratic leader, said before the vote. The bill “is a blunt object which broadly undermines 40 years of protections for national security, our economy, consumers and the environment.” U.S. exports of most crude oil were banned by Congress in […]

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US House committee passes crude oil export bill, but hurdles remain

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday approved a bill to lift all restrictions on US crude oil exports by a 31-19 vote. While it could be voted on by the full House later this month, the bill’s path in the Senate remains unclear and it faces opposition from the White House, limiting the likelihood that an export policy change could become law before President Barack Obama leaves office in 2017. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration "wouldn’t support" the crude export bill because such a policy change should be made by the Department of Commerce. A Commerce spokesman said Wednesday that the agency was not working to change current export policy, which restricts US crude exports with some exceptions. The bill Thursday, H.R. 702, was approved by all committee Republicans, but just three Democrats: Representatives Gene Green of Texas, Tony Cardenas of […]

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Obama Opposes Bill to Lift Oil Export Ban Set for House Vote

President Barack Obama opposes a measure poised to advance in the House of Representatives this week that would end the four-decade U.S. ban on oil exports. “We wouldn’t support legislation like the one that’s been put forward by Republicans,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday at a briefing. While House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pushing for a vote this month, Earnest criticized him for trying to “cozy up to oil interests” by making his announcement to an industry group in Houston. Instead of pushing oil exports, Earnest said McCarthy should advocate ending tax breaks for oil drillers and use the cash to invest in solar and wind energy. Oil companies including Continental Resources Inc. and ConocoPhillips have spent much of the past two years urging Congress to change the export policy. They have relied on a series of economic analyses concluding that ending the restrictions won’t mean […]

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Upton: U.S. oil policies should match shale era

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said U.S. crude oil export policies should match what some describe as the era of abundance. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) — As the full House Energy and Commerce Committee considers lifting a ban on U.S. crude oil exports, a congressman said it’s time policies match the shale era. By a voice vote last week , the Republican-led House Subcommittee on Energy and Power advanced legislation that would lift the ban on crude oil exports. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee considers the measure late Wednesday afternoon. "It is time for our energy policies to catch up to our new era of abundance," Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement. Upton and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield , R-Ky., issued a joint statement last week, saying the "benefits of lifting the ban are many," from domestic economic stimulus to […]

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House Plans Vote on Bill to Lift Ban on Oil Exports

WASHINGTON—House Republicans plan to vote on a bill in the coming weeks to lift the nation’s four-decade ban on oil exports, setting up a clash with the Obama administration later this year over what to do with oil from a boom in domestic production in the past decade. The vote would please more than a dozen oil companies lobbying Congress, and if successful, it could rattle global oil markets facing volatility and lower prices. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) announced the vote, which is being scheduled for the last week of September, at a Tuesday speech before the Houston-area Chamber of Commerce. While the legislation is likely to pass the GOP-controlled House, its prospects in the Senate are less clear, and the White House said it opposes it. “If there was ever a time to lift the oil export ban, it’s now,” Mr. McCarthy said in Houston. […]

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Truth takes a hit in the battle over U.S. oil export ban

They say that the first casualty of war is truth. And, on both sides of the fight over lifting the ban on exports of U.S. crude oil, the truth has already fallen into a coma. The ban was instituted in 1975 in order to make America less subject to swings in international oil supply after suffering the price shock associated with the Arab oil embargo in 1973 . Last week a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to end the ban after a Senate committee voted in July to do the same . A vote by the full House and Senate could be near. The proponents are careful NOT to say that the United States is energy-independent and so has oil to spare. Such claims made in the past backfired because it is too easy to look this up. Net U.S. imports of crude oil were almost […]

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US House Panel Passes Bill To Repeal Oil Export Ban

A US House of Representatives subcommittee passes a bill to repeal the US ban on oil exports, providing momentum in the chamber for overturning the 40-year old trade restriction. WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee passed a bill on Thursday to repeal the U.S. ban on oil exports, providing momentum in the chamber for overturning the 40-year old trade restriction. The House Energy and Power subcommittee passed the bill by a voice count. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Representative Joe Barton of Texas, is expected to be voted on by the full Energy and Commerce committee next week. Passage by the full panel would set it up for a wider vote by the Republican-led House, where it is expected to pass. The measure, however, still faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate. Barton said the energy landscape has changed since 1975 and repealing […]

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Contain Iran with oil, U.S. export backers say

Contain Iran with a decision to lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports, supporters say. Photo by Ali Mohammadi/UPI WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) — With Iran expecting to return to the global energy market, U.S. allies need a reliable source of crude oil in the way of exports, a production supporter said. The House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled hearings Wednesday on the implications of a nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany. Supporters of the agreement, which gives Iran widespread sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear assurances, describe it as a victory for diplomacy. Opponents worry about potential national security concerns for the United States and its allies in Israel. George Baker, executive director of the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, said lifting a 1970s ban on domestic crude oil exports would send a de facto […]

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US House panel set to approve crude oil exports bill Thursday

A US House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is expected Thursday to approve a bill to lift all limits on US crude exports. The House energy and power subcommittee is scheduled to vote on a bill from Texas Representative Joe Barton, a Republican, to repeal these limits, which have been in place for roughly four decades. In a joint statement, Michigan Representative Fred Upton, a Republican and the full committee’s chairman, and Kentucky Representative Ed Whitfield, a Republican and the subcommittee’s chairman, said current limits on US crude exports have become "obsolete." "We have taken a thoughtful approach to reconsidering oil exports, and the time to lift the ban is now," Upton and Whitfield said. The subcommittee vote, which will be the first of its kind in the House, is expected to set up a potential full House vote as early as this month. There are enough votes in the […]

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