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Sean Hackbarth White House press secretary Josh Earnest. White House press secretary Josh Earnest. Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

It's an age-old tactic that when you can't win a policy argument, you attack the messenger.

The Greater Houston Partnership hosted a speech by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) calling for an end to the oil export ban. "The time is right, from an economic basis," to end it, he said.

This didn't sit well with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. In announcing that President Obama would veto any bill that lifted the 40-year-old ban because the Commerce Department and not Congress should make that decision, Earnest took a potshot at the Houston business group:

This policy announcement is being made by Leader McCarthy in front of an organization in Houston that is largely funded by four or five of the biggest oil companies in the United States.


With Houston being an energy hub, no one should be shocked that the Greater Houston Partnership supports ending a 40-year-old policy that impedes American energy development. The organization, made up of 1,200 member companies and organizations, shouldn't feel ashamed for taking that position.

But Earnest's ad hominem attack ignores the fact that Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. with a diversified economy that includes manufacturing, construction, retail, international trade, and a thriving startup community. Ending the export ban will benefit businesses across the board by lowering fuel costs and creating jobs.

It's obvious that Earnest and his colleagues need to be educated about oil export ban--a policy created by Congress that now needs to be ended by Congress.

This video, "Oil Exports 101" from Producers for American Crude Oil Exports (PACE), is a good place to start.

Oil Exports 101

Maybe then the White House can have a serious discussion about ending this outdated energy policy.

Sean Hackbarth Iranian flags along a highway.Photo credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg.

If the White House has its way, we could see Iran sell oil on the world market while U.S. producers look on in frustration as they're locked out by their own government.

Matt Letourneau at the Institute for 21st Century Energy writes:

At a time when President Obama is advocating lifting sanctions against Iran, which would allow that nation to export oil around the world, you might think that President Obama would be willing to give his own nation the same opportunity.

Apparently not.

Today, the White House announced that it opposes bipartisan legislation that will be considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow that would lift the outdated ban on crude oil exports.

The Wall Street Journal's Amy Harder reports on the White House's odd reasoning: "The White House said it would oppose the bill because it believes the Commerce Department should make the export decision, not Congress."

But Congress instituted the oil export ban in the first place. It certainly should be able to decide whether it's the best policy in the current energy environment.  

And based on current research, it is. Lifting the oil export ban will create hundreds of thousands of jobs while not raising gas prices.

As Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Energy Institute said last week, "The oil export ban is fundamentally unfair and places America at a disadvantage."

Even with this veto threat, there's a good chance Congress could see if President Obama actually uses it.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on lifting the ban this week, and it's expected to pass. Then the full House is expected to vote later this month. In the Senate, Sen. John Hoeven (R) of oil-rich North Dakota believes legislation could pass with bipartisan support.

What's needed is the public telling their representatives to end the 40-year-old oil export ban. The more votes in favor in Congress, the more likely the President will do the right thing.

Tell Congress to Lift the Oil Export Ban

infographic-accf-oil_export_ban.png Lifting the crude oil export ban is good for America Lifting the crude oil export ban is good for AmericaSource: American Council for Capital Formation.
Sean Hackbarth Photographer: Kimberly White/Bloomberg

After almost a year of falling oil prices, the public isn't complaining about what it pays at the pump, and lawmakers want to keep it that way. So it's understandable why Congress has tiptoed toward ending the 40-year-old oil export ban.

The biggest barrier to finally being rid of the ban is lawmakers' fears that it will cause gasoline prices to rise, and they'll be blamed.

Well, they shouldn't worry.

There's plenty of research already out there showing that gas prices won't go up if the oil export ban is lifted:

Brookings Institution IHS Resources for the Future Government Accountability Office

The latest comes from the nonpartisan Energy Information Administration (EIA). If the oil export ban went away, allowing domestic oil to be sold internationally like other U.S. commodities, EIA finds:

Petroleum product prices in the United States, including gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude oil exports.

That's because, as previous research by the EIA found, gas prices are linked to international oil prices.

Allowing domestic producers to sell oil on the world market will push down international oil prices, "which in turn results in lower petroleum product prices for U.S. consumers."

Under no scenario did the EIA find that ending the ban will reduce domestic production and raise gas prices. In fact, no study has found that lifting the ban will cause gas prices to go up.

At the same time, by opening new markets for American companies, lifting the export ban will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

It's time Congress gives U.S. oil producers the freedom to sell their product to any customer anywhere in the world. 

Tell Congress to End the U.S. Oil Export Ban