Talk about a bitter pill – in exchange for a 5-year extension on the tax credit for renewable energy, Congress has PERMANENTLY lifted the forty-year old crude oil export ban.
This deal lines the pockets of the oil industry at the expense of the global climate. Crude oil from shale regions like the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas can now be shipped to overseas markets; it’s not even likely to be a good deal for consumers.
Crude oil has been banned from export from the US since the energy crisis of the 70s. The US oil industry has lobbied hard, especially in recent years, to end the crude export ban in order to sell US oil at global prices which tend to scale higher. Oil Change International wrote the first report on the risk of lifting the crude export ban way back in 2013, and projected the increase in the price of oil in the US that would result.
The expectation by both oil companies and environmentalists is that production of US oil will increase. Although prices are currently low everywhere, boding poorly for immediate changes, the price of oil will inevitably rise. Oil Change International estimated an increase of nearly 10 billion barrels of oil production was a realistic expectation, which would release more than 4.4 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere when burned – the equivalent of annual emissions of 1,252 average U.S. coal power plants.
And these emissions did not include the methane emissions from increased oil production. Earthworks team has been traveling to the Bakken and Eagle Ford regions recording tremendous unregulated, unmitigated leaks.
Lifting the crude export ban means more oil trains in America’s backyards, more pipelines, and pressure to build more export terminals. This despite the fact that a September 2014 poll for voters show a 68% support from Americans for keeping oil in the US. We are big fans of renewable energy, and extending the production tax credits is critical, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of communities, our economy and the global climate.