Congress

The Most Dangerous Bill You’ve Never Heard Of Just Passed The House

7 Mar 2017   Congress

Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books. The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency — say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive — must be approved by a specific resolution in each House of Congress within 70 days to take effect. To give a sense of the scale of this road-block, in 2015 there were 43 such major federal regulations passed to protect the public; among them were food safety regulations, the Clean Power Plan regulating […]

Trump’s First Law Removes Transparency Rule For Big Oil

16 Feb 2017   Congress

President Trump’s first legislative act was to sign into law a repeal of a transparency rule aimed at keeping public oil companies in check with regard to their international operations and limiting the scope for bribery and corruption. Part of the so-called Dodd-Frank Act, devised after the 2008 financial crisis to avoid a repeat of the events that led to it, the rule stipulated that U.S. public oil companies must declare all payments made to the U.S. and foreign governments and agencies in the form of royalties and taxes, starting from their financial year ending in or after September 2018. It was an Act that Big Oil was very vocally against, saying the rule put it at a disadvantage to its foreign peers. Many of these foreign competitors are based in Europe, however, and are bound by similar regulations issued by the EU, supporters of Dodd-Frank have argued. Public […]

Oil Companies, Corrupt Governments to Benefit as Congress Guts Transparency Rule

10 Feb 2017   Congress

On February 3, the Republican-led Senate used an obscure procedural tool to end a bipartisan provision meant to fight corruption and overseas oil bribery, a rule opposed by Rex Tillerson as head of ExxonMobil. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) transparency rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, was created to reduce corruption by requiring drilling and mining companies to disclose royalties and other payments made to governments in exchange for oil, gas, and mining extractions. Critics say overturning the rule could threaten national security. Written by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), the transparency rule mandated that extractive companies listed on the U.S. Stock Exchange — including Exxon, Chevron, and several Chinese oil conglomerates — publish details of the hundreds of billions of dollars paid for the rights to a nation’s natural resources. The transparency rule was implemented in 2016 with broad support […]

Republicans kill energy sector disclosure, emissions rules

4 Feb 2017   Congress

U.S. Republicans on Friday repealed a securities disclosure rule aimed at curbing corruption at oil, gas and mining companies and voted to ax emissions limits on drilling operations, part of a push to remove Obama-era regulations on the energy industry. In a 52-47 vote, the Republican-controlled Senate approved a resolution that wipes from the books a rule requiring companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp to publicly state the taxes and other fees paid to foreign governments. The House of Representatives already has passed the measure. President Donald Trump is expected to sign it shortly. Exxon and other major energy corporations have fought for years to prevent the rule, required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street […]

Congress Moves to Rescind Rule Requiring Big Oil to Reveal Foreign Government Payments

4 Feb 2017   Congress

The Senate voted Friday to rescind a rule that would have required energy companies to report payments to foreign governments for the right to develop oil, gas and mineral assets, handing a victory to an industry that has spent nearly six years fighting the disclosures. Senators voted 52-47 to repeal the Securities and Exchange Commission regulation, taking advantage of a previously little-used law, the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn agency rules. Using the same law, the Senate on…

U.S. lawmaker moves to scrap SEC’s ‘resource extraction’ rule

31 Jan 2017   Congress

A senior U.S. lawmaker unveiled a legislative plan on Monday to scrap a rule devised under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law requiring publicly-traded mining, oil and gas companies to disclose payments they make to foreign governments. Michigan Republican Bill Huizenga, who chairs the House of Representatives Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets, took aim at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s so-called “resource extraction” rule, saying it makes it harder for U.S. energies companies to compete. The rule is championed by human rights organizations who say the disclosure of payments to foreign governments by companies like Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron should help reduce corruption. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups have long opposed it, saying it puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and fails to provide investors with meaningful, material information. Industry groups successfully beat back the rule a few years ago […]

Oil, Gas Industry Looks to Trump for Opening Federal Lands to Development

11 Jan 2017   Congress, USA

President Obama’s onslaught of 11th hour rules and regulations to stifle oil and gas will be vulnerable to a motivated Congress’ retribution and incoming Trump Administration, experts say. Despite presiding over the height of the shale revolution, the Obama Administration has leased less federal land to the oil and gas industry than any other president since at least 1981 – and industry insiders are hopeful the incoming Trump Administration will turn that around. The difference between the BLM lease issuances under the Obama Administration and those of previous administrations is stark. By 2014, the Obama Administration’s BLM had issued 1,753 leases – almost half the number granted during the Clinton Administration between 1993 and 2001, according to data from the Institute for Energy Research . And the time needed for BLM to process these permits has also increased from 205 days between 2005 and 2009, to 242 days required […]

Trump faces dilemma as U.S. oil reels from record biofuels targets

The Obama administration signed its final plan for renewable fuel use in the United States last week, leaving an oil industry reeling from the most aggressive biofuel targets yet as President-elect Donald Trump takes over. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, is one of the country’s most controversial energy policies. It requires energy firms to blend ethanol and biodiesel into gasoline and diesel. The policy was designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports and boost rural economies that provide the crops for biofuels. It has pitted two of Trump’s support bases against each other: Big Oil and Big Corn. The farming sector has lobbied hard for the maximum biofuel volumes […]

House moves to hold oil, gas leases online

8 Sep 2016   Congress

House members move to hold offshore oil and gas auctions on the Internet. Photo by tartaruga1988/Shutterstock WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) — Bipartisan leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives returned from recesses to pass a measure that would move offshore oil and gas leasing to the Internet. The Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act, introduced to Reps. Garret Graves, R-La., and Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., would give the federal Department of the Interior authority to hold offshore oil and natural gas leases online. In a statement, Graves said moving the process to the Internet would increase competition and cut out some of the costs associated with holding leases in public space. “Making government work better for people, the way it’s supposed to, is a primary goal in everything we do up here, and this bill is designed with that in mind,” he said. With nearly all of the offshore oil and […]

House leader threatens subpoena over Exxon climate probe

8 Jul 2016   Congress

Legal force may be needed to compel state attorneys general and environmental groups to clarify their climate charges against Exxon Mobil, a House leader said.  Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Science Committee, sent a letter to the attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York, and a consortium of environmental advocacy groups, seeking documents tied to charges accusing Exxon of misleading the public and investors about climate change.

View full article at www.upi.com

House scoffs at Obama’s proposed $10 oil fee

6 Feb 2016   Congress

Republican leaders in the U.S. House said a White House proposal to impose a $10-per-barrel tax on U.S. oil stands no chance of gaining legislative traction. President Barack Obama proposed an additional fee on crude oil, calling for a $10-per-barrel tax to be phased in over five years to help fund new vehicle technology, rail initiatives and cleaner transportation systems. U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise , R-La., said the proposal is indicative of the Obama administration’s track record of enacting policies that hurt the nation’s energy sector. “He has waged open warfare on American energy,” he said. “The House will kill this absurd proposal, and instead focus on lowering […]

U.S. Republicans Move Toward Iran Deal Showdown With White House

8 Jan 2016   Congress, Iran

Legislation that could undermine the international nuclear deal with Iran clears a U.S. congressional panel, setting up a potential showdown over one of President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy initiatives. WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Legislation that could undermine the international nuclear deal with Iran cleared a U.S. congressional panel on Thursday, setting up a potential showdown over one of President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy initiatives. The Republican-led Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives approved the measure by a voice vote that appeared to be along party lines, setting it up for consideration by the full House. Opponents say the “Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act,” which would increase lawmakers’ oversight of the Iran agreement announced in July, is an attempt by Republicans to violate terms of the landmark deal with new legislation because they could not muster enough opposition to scuttle it last year. Republicans said […]

End of Oil-Export Ban Provides Blueprint for Bipartisan Compromise

21 Dec 2015   Congress, exports

Congress abolished the 40-year ban on oil exports this past week, a victory for oil companies and conservatives that few thought conceivable until recently. One thing made it possible: supporters absorbed the lessons of the Keystone XL pipeline, whose doom was sealed when it became a political battleground. Supporters of lifting the export ban, including oil-state Democrats, cajoled potential liberal opponents, persuading them the policy change could work in their favor. They met repeatedly with skeptical Democrats, stressing that oil prices had fallen through the floor in part due to a supply glut, so ending the ban would likely not make them soar. And they did it by offering Democrats, in the minority in both chambers, a rare chance to enact significant environmental measures and declare a victory of their own. Nearly 40 years to the day after the ban was enacted by then-President Gerald Ford, President Barack Obama […]

End of Oil-Export Ban Provides Blueprint for Bipartisan Compromise

19 Dec 2015   Congress

Congress abolished the 40-year ban on oil exports this past week, a victory for oil companies and conservatives that few thought conceivable until recently. One thing made it possible: supporters absorbed the lessons of the Keystone XL pipeline, whose doom was sealed when it became a political battleground. Supporters of lifting the export ban, including oil-state Democrats, cajoled potential liberal opponents, persuading them the policy change could work in their favor. They met repeatedly with skeptical Democrats, stressing that oil prices had fallen through the floor in part due to a supply glut, so ending the ban would likely not make them soar. And they did it by offering Democrats, in the minority in both chambers, a rare chance to enact significant environmental measures and declare a victory of their own. Nearly 40 years to the day after the ban was enacted by then-President Gerald Ford, President Barack Obama […]

Congressional Leaders Agree to Lift 40-Year Ban on Oil Exports

16 Dec 2015   Congress, exports

In a move considered unthinkable even a few months ago, congressional leaders have agreed to lift the nation’s 40-year-old ban on oil exports, a historic action that reflects political and economic shifts driven by a boom in U.S. oil drilling. The measure allowing oil exports is at the center of a deal that Republican leaders announced late Tuesday on spending and tax legislation. However, Democrats haven’t confirmed the agreement. Both the House and Senate still must pass it and President Barack Obama must sign it into law. The deal would lift the ban, a priority for Republicans and the oil industry, and at the same time adopt environmental and renewable measures that Democrats sought. These include extending wind and solar tax credits; reauthorizing for three years a conservation fund; and excluding any measures that block major Obama administration environmental regulations, according to a GOP aide. By design or not, […]

Murkowski: Oil the answer to national security

12 Dec 2015   Congress

Lifting a ban on U.S. crude oil exports could help address security issues for allies overseas more exposed to regional crises, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said. The Senate Energy Committee heard testimony on the interconnection between terrorism, national security and the global oil market. The Sunni jihadist organization Islamic State is funding some of its operations through a black market for crude oil. Murkowski in her opening remarks said national security issues extend beyond terrorist financing. “I am concerned about continued violence in Libya, which is a significant source of light crude oil for our allies in Europe,” she said. “If we’re smart enough to lift the ban on our oil exports, our […]

Congress Eyes Tax Break for Oil Refiners as Paris Talks Heat Up

12 Dec 2015   Congress

As diplomats in Paris try to secure an international agreement to rein in carbon pollution from fossil fuels, lawmakers in Washington are pushing a tax break for oil refiners as part of a compromise allowing unfettered crude-oil exports for the first time in 40 years. Senator Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, proposed a tax credit of up to $3 a barrel to independent refiners that would be harmed if Congress abolishes U.S. crude-export restrictions. A separate proposal would increase the manufacturing tax credit refiners can collect. Critics say the idea would double-up benefits to the oil industry, when Congress should instead be taking steps to curb the production and use of the fuel. “This would be a major giveaway to the oil industry at the same time the rest of the world is working diligently to forge a deal to combat climate change,” Lena Moffitt, Washington-based director of Sierra […]

New legislation affects U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

10 Dec 2015   Congress, USA

Two recently enacted laws authorize significant sales of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) over the next decade. The Bipartisan Budget Act authorizes the sale of 58 million barrels of SPR oil between FY 2018-25 for deficit reduction purposes and an estimated 40-50 million barrels of oil in FY 2017-20 for SPR modernization. As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is required to complete a long-term strategic review of the SPR to ensure it meets current and future energy and economic security goals and objectives. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act authorizes the sale of 66 million barrels of oil in FY 2023-25 to help support the Highway Trust Fund . As the largest stockpile of government-owned emergency crude oil in the world, the SPR is designed to help alleviate significant disruptions in […]

White House opposes legislative efforts to erase oil export ban

10 Dec 2015   Congress

Efforts to reverse a 40-year-old ban on domestic crude oil exports through legislative action are not welcome, a White House spokesman said. Congressional leaders are working to pass a massive government funding bill before Friday, when lawmakers break for holiday recess. Included in the measure is language meant to end a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. Similar efforts to reverse the ban have been met with a veto threat from U.S. President Barack Obama . White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration continues to stand against legislative efforts to erase the ban. “Our position on that is firm — we oppose it,” he said during […]

House passes symbolic gesture for oil exports

5 Dec 2015   Congress

A U.S. House leader said a bill passed in favor of oil exports rejects a global landscape favoring North America, but support wasn’t enough to override a veto. By a vote of 249-174, the House of Representatives passed the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, which, among other things, would reverse the moratorium placed on domestic crude oil exports in the 1970s. Thanks in part to the shale oil boom, U.S. aggregate production is rivaling top producer Saudi Arabia. Supporters of the measure argued U.S. energy policy needs to reflect that momentum . “America is now the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, and updating our policies for […]

U.S. oil reserve sale reduced in transportation bill deal

2 Dec 2015   Congress

The U.S. transportation bill will be partially funded by selling off some of the U.S. emergency oil reserve, but less will be sold than originally planned after negotiators in the Senate and House of Representatives reached a deal on Tuesday. About 66 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be sold from 2023 to 2025 under the deal, instead of about 100 million barrels, the amount in the original bill passed by the Senate in July. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, is expected to reach the floor of each chamber by Friday, when a short-term funding measure runs out. Once passed, it would then go to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed. The world’s largest supply of government-owned emergency oil, held in a series of […]

House Votes to Block EPA Power-Plant Rules

2 Dec 2015   Climate, Congress

The Republican-controlled House Tuesday approved a pair of measures blocking federal rules to cut power-plant emissions , a symbolic move aimed at sowing doubt about President Barack Obama’s climate agenda while world leaders gather in Paris to forge an accord on the problem. The votes are part of a multifront attack congressional Republicans are mounting against Mr. Obama’s climate policies. GOP lawmakers are also working to block federal dollars from supporting global climate efforts, and they are moving separate energy legislation this week that they say shows a contrast between their priorities and Mr. Obama’s. And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, campaigning for president in Iowa, said Tuesday that “I’m not sure I would have gone to the climate summit if I was president today” due to concerns about the potential economic impact on the U.S. of an agreement. The House, in two separate votes, passed measures nullifying recent […]

COP21: Republican scepticism hangs over Paris climate talks

1 Dec 2015   Climate, Congress

The Republican presidential race will cast a shadow over this week’s UN climate talks as President Barack Obama pledges to take action in Paris that his would-be successors have vowed to overturn.  The unexpected popularity of outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson has entrenched the Republican party’s image as a hotbed of climate change scepticism just as some party strategists hoped it would shift to a more reasonable stance.  While all the 2016 Republicans want to repeal Mr Obama’s greenhouse gas regulations, Mr Trump and Mr Carson — who lead the primary election field — stand out for the bluntness of their denials of man-made climate change.  “I consider it to be not a big problem at all,” Mr Trump, the property tycoon, has said. “I think it’s weather changes.” When a cold snap loomed recently he tweeted tartly: “Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming.”  Mr Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has said: “I know there are a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science’ . . . There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused.”  When a panel of scientists was asked by the Associated Press to grade the accuracy of candidates’ climate statements, the only person to score lower than Mr Carson and Mr Trump was Ted Cruz, favourite of the Republicans’ Tea Party wing.

View full article at www.ft.com

Standoff over government climate study provokes national uproar by scientists

25 Nov 2015   Climate, Congress

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 […]

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

20 Nov 2015   Coal, Congress

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 […]

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

17 Nov 2015   Congress

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 […]

Hoeven tries again to erase oil export ban

14 Nov 2015   Congress, exports

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 […]

US House subcommittees hear wide range of recommendations for RFS

Implementation of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has created problems that require congressional attention 10 years after the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT) established it, witnesses generally told a joint hearing of two US House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittees. But they disagreed on their recommendations, which ranged from adjusting provisions under EPACT and the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which expanded RFS quotas, to repealing the entire statute. “The RFS is an egregious perversion of the free market,” Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstein (R-Okla.) said in his opening statement at the Nov. 3 hearing. “Instead of a transportation fuel market driven by consumer demand, we are stuck with a complex mandate based on outdated assumptions about gasoline demand, environmental impact, and technological readiness. Each year, the RFS requires still higher volumes of renewable fuel which now exceed the volumes that can be accommodated given current gasoline demand,” he said. It also is increasingly apparent that consumers are ill-equipped to make smart choices about new types of gasoline entering the marketplace, Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) said in his opening statement.

Click here to view full article at www.ogj.com

Murkowski: Why no oil swaps with Mexico?

24 Oct 2015   Congress

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 […]

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

8 Oct 2015   Congress, exports

 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 […]

NYT: Oil export push well-funded machine

7 Oct 2015   Congress

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 […]

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

7 Oct 2015   Congress

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 […]

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

6 Oct 2015   Congress

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 […]

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

2 Oct 2015   Congress

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 […]

House Democrats Keep Door Open to Crude Exports, Seek Sweeteners

18 Sep 2015   Congress, exports

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 […]

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

18 Sep 2015   Congress, exports

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 […]

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

16 Sep 2015   Congress

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 […]

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

16 Sep 2015   Congress

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 […]

House Plans Vote on Bill to Lift Ban on Oil Exports

16 Sep 2015   Congress

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. […]

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

14 Sep 2015   Congress

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 […]

US House Panel Passes Bill To Repeal Oil Export Ban

11 Sep 2015   Congress

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 […]

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

10 Sep 2015   Congress, Iran

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 […]

US House panel set to approve crude oil exports bill Thursday

9 Sep 2015   Congress

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 […]

Congress Set to Duel Over Iran Nuclear Pact This Week

8 Sep 2015   Congress, Iran

Lawmakers set to begin a bruising foreign policy fight over the Iran nuclear accord this week are likely to hand President Barack Obama a narrow and partisan victory, but one that saddles Democratic supporters with uncertain political consequences. Both chambers return to Washington on Tuesday after Congress’ annual summer recess, kicking off a fractious fall that will feature acrimonious debate and a possible veto fight over the nuclear agreement. The issue also will set the tone for showdowns later this year over government spending. A stream of Democratic endorsements dribbling out over recent weeks has all but guaranteed the White House will be able to implement the deal before Mr. Obama leaves office in less than two years. The agreement, reached in Vienna on July 14, imposes strict curbs on Iran’s nuclear program that will start to be eased after 10 years. In exchange, the U.S., the European Union […]

Rubio: Priority No. 1 is lifting U.S. oil export ban

4 Sep 2015   Congress, exports

Lifting a ban on U.S. crude oil exports will bring “immediate” economic stimulus to the economy, Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio said. Sen. Rubio, R-Fla., addressed supporters in Oklahoma, saying one of the first things he’d do if elected president would be to lift the 1970s era ban on exports of domestic crude oil. “President Nixon signed it into law in the 1970s — long before the economy had been fundamentally transformed by globalization and technological innovations, long before the hydraulic-fracturing and shale revolutions had launched a new era of American energy,” he said. “Lifting the crude-oil export ban will be an immediate boon to our economy.” The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the interests of the oil and […]

Congress Likely to Repeal Oil Export Ban in 2016, Evercore Says

22 Aug 2015   Congress

Legislation to repeal a 40-year ban on most domestic oil exports will probably become law in the first quarter of next year, according to analysts at Evercore ISI. A move to end the ban would probably include a condition that allows the administration of President Barack Obama to set export levels, Evercore analyst Terry Haines said in a research note Friday. While there is some congressional support to lifting the ban, some analysts said its unlikely to happen before the 2016 elections. “Obama and his regulators are likely to have a more positive view of an oil export ban repeal that empowered regulators generally to decide oil export levels,” Haines said in the note. “That sort of repeal also would be attractive to congressional Republicans and Democrats that would see it as a compromise alternative that overturns the ban and is a significant step on the road to full […]

US House leaders press BP for answers on Whiting refinery outage

19 Aug 2015   Congress

Leaders in the US House of Representatives are demanding answers from BP PLC regarding the early August unplanned and still ongoing shutdown of a major processing unit at its 413,000-b/d refinery in Whiting, Ind. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Fred Upton (R-Ind.) have sent a letter to BP Chief Executive Robert Dudley asking for information pertaining to the sudden closing of the refinery unit on Aug. 8, which has caused a sharp spike in gas prices throughout the upper Midwest, Walorski and Upton said in a joint release. “Some areas of the Midwest have seen prices rise over $1/gal over a 24-hr period, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable of our constituents and resulting in large unpredicted costs in getting goods to market across the region,” the House members wrote. In addition to noting the immediate hardship posed to constituents in their districts as a result of rising prices at […]

Lobbying Fight Over Iran Nuclear Deal Centers on Democrats

18 Aug 2015   Congress, Iran

From his rented vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, President Obama has been making phone calls to Democratic members of Congress, trying to rally support for the nuclear deal with Iran that faces a vote next month. “If you support the deal, we’d like you to make that clear,” he tells the lawmakers, according to a White House official who would describe the private calls only on condition of anonymity. “And if you still have concerns, we want to be able to answer those questions.” The personal appeals from the president are part of an orchestrated lobbying effort by the White House, supported by a coalition of antiwar and progressive organizations, aimed at persuading Democrats […]

Mexican oil swap sparks calls for full U.S. exports

18 Aug 2015   Congress, USA

A decision to swap crude oil with Mexico is a much needed step toward a full easing of the ban on domestic oil exports, U.S. production groups said. The U.S. Commerce Department last week 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 into the nation. The deal requires Mexico to refine the crude oil at home and forbids re-export to other nations. Swaps are permissible under current legislation. Barrel Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the […]

Move to Allow U.S. Oil Exports Accelerates

10 Aug 2015   Congress

Big voices in the oil industry and Congress now support a move that would have been unthinkable not long ago: opening the U.S. oil industry to exports. The U.S. has long pushed for liberalized trade, with U.S.-produced crude being the biggest exception since the shock of the 1973 Arab oil embargo led Congress to ban oil exports under nearly all circumstances. The only other U.S. products banned under the same regulations are a type of tree found in Western North Americacalled Western red cedar and live horses for slaughter shipped by sea. The House now looks likely to vote as early as September to lift the oil-export ban, with Senate action anticipated early next year, which would mark a milestone few saw coming. But while freely exporting U.S. oil may come as a shock to some Americans, it probably won’t cause much of an economic stir, especially with global […]