Should Congress End the Oil Export Ban?

“Texas could be the biggest winner.”

By Hady MawajdehSeptember 20, 2015 6:45 pm

The United States has not been allowed to export oil – with just a few exceptions – since 1973.

When the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) set an oil embargo that drove up gas prices – the “Arab oil embargo,” as many called it – it led to an energy panic with Americans waiting in line for hours, just for a gallon of gasoline.

Fast-forward to today: The U.S. is experiencing an energy boom, thanks in part to fracking. The industry, facing falling oil and gas prices, is now pushing to have that policy lifted. Legislation has been filed in Congress and a House vote is scheduled for the last week of September.

Rayola Dougher is a senior economic advisor at the American Petroleum Institute. She came to Bastrop to brief the Texas House Republican Caucus on the current energy climate.

“Texas would be the biggest winner,” she says. “If you were allowed to export your crude oil, you get a better price on the world’s crude oil market.”

Dougher says that the economic impact could mean as much as 41,000 jobs by 2020 and about $5 billion to the state of Texas.

To critics of the proposed change, she says this: “Every single study that looks at this says it’s going to lower the price of crude oil and it would depend on how much we could get to the market and how fast,” Dougher says. She’s citing studies from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Congressional Budget Office, the General Accountability Office, Harvard University, and Columbia University.

“It’s absolutely obscene that we’re working to make sure that Iran has the sanctions against their exports lifted while not having sanctions against Texas or United States exports lifted,” Dougher says.

But couldn’t OPEC cut production to offset the effects of lifting the ban – tightening the spigot strategically – as they’ve done in the past?

“Whether or not OPEC will respond, they always have that card,” Dougher says. “They can always play it anytime they want, but we’ve got to do what’s right for us.”