Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Iran Deal Could Mean for US Ban on Oil Exports

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Iran Deal Could Mean for US Ban on Oil Exports

Article excerpt

In the wake of a historic agreement with Iran, a bipartisan push to lift the decades-old ban on US oil exports may be gaining traction in Congress.

Crude oil prices tumbled after Iran and six world powers, including the United States, announced a deal Tuesday that would curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of US and EU economic sanctions on Iran.

The shift in the world market, along with a recent surge in domestic energy production, has provided an opening for bipartisan efforts to end a 40-year ban on most US oil exports, in "a quest that's become a cause celebre among energy-state legislators from Texas to North Dakota," Jared Gilmour wrote for The Christian Science Monitor.

Opponents of the 1975 oil exports ban have portrayed it as a relic of a bygone era, created in response to the 1970s energy crisis. Today, the US is competing with Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's top energy producer, and advocates, both in Washington and in the oil and gas industry say ending the ban could help boost US production.

In May, Senate Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) of North Dakota introduced a bill to lift the ban, with Sen. Heitkamp - the bill's only Democratic co- sponsor - calling the restriction "as outdated as the typewriters on which the policy was written."

"It's past time for an upgrade," she said in a statement.

According to industry projections, allowing US producers to sell oil on the global market could lead to tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in additional GDP. The Iran deal could reinforce that argument, experts say.

"What this means in terms of foreign policy may actually provide additional incentives. Especially if, as we see, the oil price will come down a bit," Jamie Webster, senior director at the energy analysis giant IHS, told Politico ahead of Tuesday's agreement. …

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