Congress Kills US Oil Export Ban
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The US Congress voted to repeal the 40-year-old ban on exporting US crude oil in an energy policy shift sought by Republicans as part of a bipartisan deal that also provided unprecedented tax incentives for wind and solar power.
The Senate, on a 65-33 vote, approved Friday lifting the ban and providing five-year extensions of tax breaks to boost renewable energy development as part of a $1.8 trillion government spending and tax relief bill that President Barack Obama quickly signed into law, Reuters reported.
The House of Representatives passed legislation containing the energy provisions earlier in the day by a 316-113 tally.
The energy deal was hammered out in secret talks among congressional leaders over two weeks.
Senators Lisa Murkowski, a Alaska Republican, and Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico had worked for more than a year to get the deal.
Democrats who backed the deal asserted that its provisions encouraging renewable energy were important for combating global climate change.
"This is the biggest deal for addressing climate change that we are going to see," Heinrich said in an interview.
Heinrich said Democrats may not have been able to get a better deal even if they controlled both chambers of Congress, now led by Republicans. Many Republicans have opposed Democratic proposals to address climate change.
Congress, concerned about US dependence on imported oil, imposed the crude oil export ban after the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s that sent gasoline prices soaring and contributed to runaway inflation. Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed the embargo following the US decision to re-supply the Israeli military during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Drillers have said lifting the ban would increase US oil security and give Washington's allies in Europe and Asia an alternative source of crude beyond OPEC and Russia. The bill could benefit oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp, ConocoPhillips and Chevron.
Opponents of lifting the export ban said the action would harm the environment and could lead to an increase in fiery derailments of crude-carrying trains.