• Senator: Obama Favors Iranian Oil Over US Oil

    The lead Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is accusing President Barack Obama of harming U.S. oil producers by allowing Iran to export oil to global markets while simultaneously not repealing the federal ban on American oil exports.

    “We are letting Iran export its oil to markets that we prevent our own companies from accessing,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said after releasing a report arguing Iranian oil sanctions shouldn’t be lifted without allowing U.S. companies to export oil.

    Recent months have seen a bipartisan effort to lift 1970s-era restrictions on exporting U.S. crude oil. Murkowski and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, introduced legislation earlier this year to lift the federal ban on oil exports. The Obama administration, however, has not done much to lift the oil export ban.

    In the meantime, the Obama administration has made a concerted effort to come to an agreement with Iran over the fate of its nuclear program. Part of that deal would be easing economic sanctions on the Islamic nation in exchange for allowing the international oversight of its nuclear program.

    Republicans have largely opposed a nuclear deal with Iran, but Murkowski says any deal eliminating Iran’s economic sanctions should be coupled with lifting the U.S. oil export ban.

    “Any deal that lifts sanctions on Iranian oil will disadvantage American companies unless we lift the antiquated ban on our own oil exports,” Murkowski said. “The impending deal with Iran is at the center of the nexus between national security and energy policy.”

    But efforts to increase energy exports are being hindered by low oil prices and tough opposition from environmentalists and anti-fossil fuel Democrats. The left-wing Center for American Progress funded a poll touting that most Americans oppose allowing more crude oil exports.

    Some refiners have also opposed efforts to boost oil exports, a move that could cut into their profit margins. Most refiners, however, have not opposed exports, and the main industry opposition has come from refining giant Valero.

    “The unlimited export of crude is not in the national interest,” Bill Day, spokesman for Valero Energy Corp, told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re not so sure who would support such a thing, unless you were a producer and wanted to get a higher price for what you are producing.”

    Murkowski’s report comes out as the petroleum industry releases its own report on how pro-energy policies will help drive more U.S. economic growth. Among the policy recommendations in the American Petroleum Institute-Woods Mackenzie report was repealing the oil export ban.

    Repealing the crude export ban by 2016, along with other pro-energy policies, would add $443 billion to the economy by 2025 and reduce Americans’ energy costs by $360 per year.

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