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VIDEO: Eshoo Opposes Lifting Crude Oil Export Ban

October 9th, 2015

Congresswoman Eshoo spoke on the House floor in opposition to H.R. 702, legislation to lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports.

Eshoo’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:

The Honorable Anna G. Eshoo
U.S. House of Representatives
Statement in opposition to H.R. 702
October 9, 2015

Mr. Speaker,

I oppose this legislation for several reasons. First, except in very narrow circumstances the bill does not allow any limits on exports of domestic oil regardless of potential threats to our national security. For decades there has been a bipartisan commitment in Congress and several Administrations to energy independence and reducing our reliance on foreign oil. Given the continued dependence of our economy and our military on oil, energy independence remains critical to our national defense. But with little consideration of any national security implications, this bill allows unlimited exports of a critical strategic resource.

Even during our current prolonged boom in domestic oil production, the U.S. still imports 26 percent of the oil we consume and remains the world’s top importer. Every barrel exported under this bill would have to be replaced by a barrel imported from elsewhere, leaving us more reliant on foreign countries.

H.R. 702 allows the President to limit exports only if he declares an emergency under the National Emergencies Act or International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or if he is directed by the International Energy Agency to respond to an international supply crisis. Outside of these narrow circumstances, the bill permits no restrictions on exports of crude oil. This means strategic considerations such as decreasing our reliance on imports from unfriendly regimes can play no part in deciding whether to allow exports. By contrast, proposals to export liquefied natural gas must be reviewed by the Administration to ensure they are in the national security interests of the United States. Why shouldn’t crude oil exports be subject to the same national security analysis before they are approved?

Supporters argue that lifting the export ban will allow U.S. oil to be exported to allies in Eastern Europe as a form of “energy diplomacy.” But under the legislation, Congress and the Administration have no input on where the oil is exported to. The oil will be sold by private companies in the international market, and experts predict that most U.S. exports would be sent to Asia. Furthermore, the Congressional Research Service has found that Eastern Europe does not have the port infrastructure or refineries to handle U.S. crude. Those countries are better off importing refined U.S. products which is already permitted under current law.

H.R. 702 will also have drastic impacts on the U.S. shipbuilding industry, tanker fleet, and refineries, all of which are critical to our national defense. Congress has recognized for nearly 100 years that it benefits our national security to maintain a robust domestic shipbuilding industry and commercial shipping fleet. For example, crude exports from Alaska which were legalized in 1995 must be carried on U.S.-flagged vessels crewed by American citizens.

This bill contains no requirement that exports be carried on U.S.-flagged tankers. The Energy Information Administration found that many refineries on the East Coast would suffer if unfettered exports are allowed because U.S. crude will be exported and refined abroad. This will leave large parts of the U.S. reliant on other countries for refined petroleum products.

Under current law, the President can allow exports of crude oil if he finds they are in the national interest. The Commerce Department recently used this authority to allow limited exports and swaps with Canada and Mexico. H.R. 702 would allow unlimited exports regardless of whether they are in the national security interests of the United States or not.

Commander Kirk Lippold, the retired Navy Captain of the USS Cole, testified before Congress earlier this year that “the national security implications of changing the existing policy regulating the export of crude oil are rife with unknown and probably unintended consequences that must be fully considered and addressed.”

I agree with Commander Lippold. This bill largely ignores those important national security concerns and it’s why I urge my colleagues to oppose it.

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