US energy security, prices at risk from crude oil exports-Report
WASHINGTON - Lifting a decades-old ban onthe export of most U.S. crude oil would raise domestic gasolineprices and squander the United States' new-found energysecurity, according to an analysis published Tuesday by a groupwith close ties to the Obama administration. The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank founded by John Podesta, who is now a senior adviser toPresident Barack Obama, issued a policy brief ahead of theSenate energy committee hearing on Thursday. Daniel Weiss, CAP's director of climate strategy, will beamong those testifying at the panel, the first by Congress todebate the pros and cons of updating restrictions on crude oilthat have been largely unchanged since the 1970s. Oil producers and groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerceare agitating for change, arguing that domestic refineries builtfor handling heavier types of imported crude oil cannot handlethe growing glut of light, sweet crude oil from the domesticshale boom in the Bakken region of North Dakota. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz raised eyebrows lastmonth when he said this and other energy policies, craftedduring an era of scarcity, should be revisited. Weiss, a co-author of the CAP brief, argued that Obamashould retain the sweeping ban on exports in order to keepprotect consumers at the gasoline pump, who have benefited from"enhanced gasoline price stability." "The lower domestic price for oil benefits families,businesses, and the overall economy," the brief said. CAP's analysis said lifting the ban would result in highergasoline prices for U.S. consumers. It pointed to the example ofWest Coast gasoline prices, which jumped as a result of the 1996lifting of the ban on crude oil from Alaska, which supplied mostof the region's supply. Citing a 2006 report by the Congressional Research Service,the CAP said that prior to 1996 West Coast gasoline prices wereonly five cents per gallon higher than the national average. By1999, that differential rose to 15 cents per gallon. After Alaska crude exports ceased in the early 2000s, thedifferential between West Coast gasoline prices and nationalprices narrowed again. "This experience suggests that lifting the crude oil exportban could similarly raise gasoline prices because 68 percent ofthe price of a gallon of gasoline is the price of oil," the CAPreport said. "Additionally, domestic oil exported overseas would bereplaced by more-expensive imported oil, which could then bereflected in higher gasoline prices." CAP also said easing or removing crude oil exportrestrictions could jeopardize the relative energy security thathas resulted from rising production in the United States.