Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Oil Drilling

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

"A Ban and an Energy Boom

Virtually no one would have predicted just a decade ago that the United States would soon transform into an energy-producing powerhouse. Regardless, we have, and our nation is now one of the world’s leading producers of oil and natural gas.

But there is action that can and should be taken in order to help sustain this success: lifting the outdated ban on crude oil exports.

This is not a partisan issue. As Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) explained in a recent opinion piece, “A relic of the Nixon administration, the national ban on crude oil was a failed price control policy then and now is nothing more than an unnecessary restriction on one single industry that exists nowhere else in our economy—preventing it from selling its commodity on the global market.”

Last week, my colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 702, a bill authored by Congressmen Joe Barton (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to lift the nearly 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. This legislation is expected for consideration by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

The ban was first implemented at a time during which there were fears about the scarcity of domestic oil. But that ship has sailed, and the ban is no longer justified. The development of new technologies led to an increase in drilling activity around the nation, resulting in the United States’ role as one of the world’s largest producers of oil.

Lifting this ban could have several benefits.

While I believe lifting the oil export ban will have little impact on the price of gasoline at the pump, some believe that it may actually decrease the price. In fact, some studies have shown that lifting the ban would flatten or even reduce domestic gas prices. For example, a study from the Obama Administration’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA, an agency that collects, analyzes, and disseminates energy information) indicates that in the America, “gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude oil exports.”

Additionally, a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that eliminating the ban would “increase the size of the economy, with implications for employment, investment, public revenue and trade.”

And as the Wall Street Journal noted in a 2013 editorial, “lifting the ban would lead to more domestic production, which means more jobs in oil drilling and services and everything that goes along with such growth.” Thus, lifting the ban on crude oil exports would create jobs all over the country. One place at which lifting this ban could create jobs is at the Russell County metals manufacturer Steel Fab, which makes large tanks that are used by the oil and gas industry. When I visited them on September 21, they told me that they make tanks for all ends of the economic spectrum, and that have recently sent a very large tank to be used in Texas.

Finally, lifting the ban would provide our allies around the world with the ability to import American oil rather than oil from Russia or Iran. With this Administration having supported the lifting of Iran’s ban on oil exports should come their support for lifting the ban on American exports.

President Obama in the past has sarcastically described Republicans’ energy strategy as: “Step one is drill, and step two is drill, and then step three is keep drilling.” Instead, we believe in an all-of-the-above energy policy in which we dig, discover, deregulate, and – yes – drill in order to secure our energy future, provide jobs, and keep costs low.

I suspect to President Obama’s chagrin, “drill baby drill” has worked as a strategy far better than he ever expected. Since this “drill baby drill” strategy is working, let’s lift the ban on crude oil exports once and for all, and do our part to ensure this strategy continues working into the future.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives."