House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., on Thursday called on President Joe Biden to limit crude oil exports in response to high gasoline prices.
In a letter to Biden, Pallone said the administration should, in whole or in part, restore a ban on the export of crude oil that was in place until 2015. When the ban was lifted, a move Pallone opposed at the time, Congress preserved the president’s ability to impose restrictions on exports for one year in response to certain economic or national security emergencies.
“I believe that our current circumstances meet the requirements of the law with respect to reimposing export restrictions on U.S. crude oil,” Pallone said. “Stopping crude oil exports would increase the domestic supply of oil available to U.S. refiners and would consequently help reduce prices at the pump here at home.”
In 2021, the U.S. exported about 8.63 million barrels per day and imported about 8.47 million bpd, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Democratic members of Congress have previously called on the administration to reinstate the ban. In April 2021, Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., introduced a bill that would do just that, citing both benefits to consumers and environmental benefits.
However, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ban of imports of Russian oil, the U.S. has said it would support European allies with energy exports. In his letter, Pallone said it was important to “consider how the United States can continue to assist its allies with their energy needs, while minimizing our exports to non-allied countries” as it weighs the decision.
At the White House’s request, Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm last week met with executives from Chevron, BP, Phillips 66 and other energy companies to discuss consumer prices and refining capacity. Both industry leaders and the Biden administration said the meeting was “constructive” but did not generate a policy solution.
Pallone said the export of crude oil has come at the detriment of domestic refining investments, which the EIA last week said has reached an eight-year low. Gas prices stood at $4.86 per gallon nationally, according to AAA, although they had dropped by over 8 cents in the past week.
Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy for the American Petroleum Institute, encouraged the administration and Congress to focus on policies that would increase domestic energy production, echoing an oft-repeated sentiment as the industry is pressed over high fuel prices.
“Restricting U.S. energy exports would only create further instability in the marketplace, diminish American energy leadership and represent a grave disservice to our allies — including those in Europe — that depend on the U.S. to meet their energy needs,” Macchiarola said in a statement.