Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

May 19 2015

Heitkamp, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Efforts to Lift the U.S. Oil Export Ban

New Legislation Aims to Complement & Strengthen the Bill the Senators Introduced Earlier in the Week to Lift the Ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced legislation to complement their bipartisan bill – which they introduced last week – to help lift the outdated, 40-year ban on exporting American crude oil. The new legislation aims to end the export ban while clarifying some key pieces of the initial legislation the Senators introduced to make it as strong and comprehensive as possible.

A subcommittee ranking member on the Senate Committee on Banking, Heitkamp worked to specifically craft the new bill to be referred to the Banking Committee and with the intent of merging it with the initial Murkowski-Heitkamp legislation to lift the U.S. oil export ban which the Senators introduced on March 13. The new bill seeks to reinforce the need to lift the oil export ban by going line-by-line through federal laws already on the books to strike any mention of or reference to the prohibitions on crude oil exports. It also would clearly define the extent of the President’s authority on limiting future crude oil exports under certain conditions, and make sure that removing the ban would not have an adverse impact domestically by looking at a broad range of items and indicators.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Bob Corker (R-TN) joined Heitkamp and Murkowski in introducing the American Crude Oil Export Equality Act.

The ban currently compromises American competitiveness and security by unduly restricting the ability of American crude oil producers to export and sell their products outside of our national borders. Heitkamp and Murkowski are working to lift the antiquated, 1970s-era ban by aiming to promote long-term stability of crude oil prices for consumers, to spur investments in U.S. energy production, support and grow energy sector jobs, and to promote long-term stability by reducing the U.S. trade deficit and boosting our national energy security.

Numerous studies have shown that lifting the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil would likely have a positive impact on economic growth and energy development across the country. Recent reports from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, the Brookings Institution, and IHS  show that lifting the ban and allowing access to the global markets would more than likely lower gasoline prices.

“To build a strong future for our country, we need policies that help our country prosper, not policies that are four decades old and in dire need of updates,” said Heitkamp. “But we can change that. That’s why Senator Murkowski and I introduced legislation to lift the ban on exporting American crude oil last week, and it’s why we’re building on that initial effort today with a bill to reinforce and strengthen America’s ability to develop and export one of our natural resources and make the world a safer place with better energy import options for our allies. Senator Murkowski has been a true leader on this issue, and we hope to combine our two bills to make the legislation as strong as possible so that we can bring this country’s energy policy into the 21st century.” 

“America’s energy landscape has gone through significant changes in the past 40 years. Unfortunately, our energy policies have not all kept up with the times,” Murkowski said. “The current ban on exporting domestic crude oil makes us less competitive as a nation and restricts our economic activity. That’s why I am introducing legislation with Senator Heitkamp to lift this antiquated policy and show that the United States is serious about being a world energy leader.”

“As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I have been very involved in ongoing discussions about exporting crude oil and addressing the many concerns about a potential price increase for American consumers,” said Manchin. “Today, I am pleased to have worked through many of those concerns in order to cosponsor this legislation crafted by our Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Senator Heidi Heitkamp. This bill provides triggers to stop exports if gas prices increase or if our economy is adversely affected. Lifting the ban on oil exports will also improve our national security interests by reducing our trade deficits, neutralizing countries like Iran that extract the same types of oil as the United States, expanding our competitive edge in a global marketplace, and providing a stable source of energy to our allies so that they will no longer be dependent on undemocratic regimes. It is encouraging that we are introducing this bipartisan bill that will bring us one step closer to achieving energy independence and an all-of-the-above domestic energy approach.”

"We’re now at a point where we can take advantage of economic and strategic benefits from lifting an outdated ban that will expand markets for American oil products overseas,” said Corker. "Boosting global supply should help support reduced and more consistent prices for consumers and give our allies more choices when purchasing oil.”

Earlier this month, Heitkamp and Murkowski spoke together on the Senate floor about the urgent need to lift the nation’s outdated decades-old ban on exporting American crude oil. Heitkamp was the lead sponsor on Murkowski’s bipartisan amendment to lift the U.S. crude oil ban – which would allow the U.S. to fully harness its own energy resources while giving our allies an option not to import oil from volatile or unstable countries in the Middle East and Africa or from unfriendly countries, like Russia and Venezuela. The amendment was attached to a bill that would give Congress the ability to review any nuclear deal with Iran.

Heitkamp has long been a vocal advocate for lifting the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil. She spoke about the need to end this antiquated policy during the national energy strategy meeting the U.S. Department of Energy held in Bismarck in August 2014 at her request. Then in September 2014, Heitkamp and John Hess, the CEO of Hess Corporation, appeared together on CNBC’s Squawk Box where they talked about the need to lift the ban. 

Heitkamp and Murkowski’s bill would harness American energy resources and strengthen their bill to lift the ban on American oil exports by:

  • Promoting Fair Treatment of Energy Exports: By authorizing crude and condensate oil produced in the United States to be exported on the same basis as petroleum exports, Heitkamp and Murkowski’s bill is working to open up the United States to new markets abroad, giving our allies better alternatives than relying on unfriendly or volatile countries for energy imports. The bill includes a provision allowing the President to prohibit oil exports to protect national security.

  • Defining the Limitations of Presidential Authority: The bill would give the President the ability to impose restrictions on oil exports, like licensing requirements, for up to one year under certain special circumstances – and if necessary, the ability to extend those requirements or restrictions annually. Some of these special circumstances include: national security threats, national emergencies, sustained crude oil shortages, and when supply shortages or price increase are likely to negatively impact employment.
  • Analyzing the Long-term Impact on Consumers & Energy Production: The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to analyze the impact of the lifted oil export ban is having on energy production across the country, consumers, independent oil refiners, as well as shipbuilders and ship repair yards. This report would begin one year after the ban is lifted and continue annually for three years.

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov