Senator Lisa Murkowski. Image courtesy of Lisa Murkowski/Flickr.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators led by Lisa Murkowski and Heidi Heitkamp introduced a bill Wednesday to lift a 40 year long ban on U.S. crude exports.

The Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S.1312) would authorize exports of all crude oil and condensate produced in the United States without a federal license, on the same basis as exports of petroleum products are currently authorized but with an exception for oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Murkowski and Heitkamp were joined by Sens. Hoeven (R-N.D), Barrasso (R-Wyoming), McCain (R-Ariz.), Corker (R-Tenn.), Alexander (R-Tenn.), Risch (R-Idaho), Flake (R-Ariz.), Capito (R-W.Va)., Inhofe (R-Okla.), Rubio (R-Fla.), and Lankford (R-Okla.) as cosponsors representing six committee chairmen.

Murkowski,a Republican from Alaska, has been a vocal supporter of the energy industry and has long called for the ban to be overturned.

“The 1970s-era ban on exporting American crude oil is as outdated as the typewriters on which the policy was written. It’s past time for an upgrade,” Sen. Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, told the Bismark Tribune she believes the bill is vital to keep her state’s crude industry afloat.

“There is a desperate need to open up the international markets for North Dakota crude,” Heitkamp said.

Industry groups celebrated the bill as a step towards making U.S. producers stay competitive in the global market.

“Study after study has confirmed that trade policies from the 1970s are only putting U.S. workers and consumers at a disadvantage. This bill will unlock America’s energy potential and help U.S. energy production to stay competitive in a difficult market,” American Petroleum Institute executive vice president Louis Finkel said.

The bill has been met with opposition from some senate members concerned that lifting the ban could cause domestic gasoline prices to spike, a view the bill’s sponsors refute.

“American exports will help us keep gasoline prices affordable while undermining the influence of oil-rich countries that don’t share our values or our interests,” Sen. Barrasso said.


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