Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Oct 01 2015

Heitkamp-Murkowski Bipartisan Bill to Lift the Ban on U.S. Oil Exports Passes in Senate Banking Committee

Multiple Democrats on Committee said Discussion on Ending the Ban is One Congress Needs to Have

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today helped pass bipartisan legislation she wrote with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to lift the decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, on which Heitkamp helps lead a subcommittee.

During the markup of the bill, multiple other Democratic senators expressed that lifting the ban on exporting oil is a discussion that Congress needs to have, building on the statements from other Democratic senators over the past few months. For about a year, Heitkamp and Murkowski have been meeting with senators – especially Senate Democrats -- to explain why lifting the ban makes sense and build support.

“Today’s discussion reinforced that there is a strong willingness in Congress to lift the outdated ban on exporting U.S. oil,” said Heitkamp. “Over the past several months, we have quickly gained momentum for the bipartisan legislation Senator Murkowski and I offered – which would lower or stabilize gas prices, strengthen our economy, support jobs, and increase our influence abroad. Over the past year, I’ve had good discussions with many senators about why lifting the ban makes so much sense, and we’re now seeing some movement. Many Senate Democrats have expressed that they are open to talking about ending this policy – and we saw such action from more senators today. Putting an end to this policy is a discussion we need to have by working together, and it shouldn’t be a partisan exercise or get bogged down by political poison pills. We have many options to move this policy forward and growing support for it – that’s good news for a commonsense, bipartisan policy.”

"As we prepare to enable Iran to export more crude oil to some of our most important allies, the vote on the Banking Committee sends a clear signal that Congress is moving toward full repeal of the outdated ban on exporting American oil,” said Murkowski. "I applaud Chairman Shelby, Senator Heitkamp, and all of my colleagues who have supported our efforts to improve our national security and grow our economy."

According to numerous studies, including from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lifting the U.S. ban would provide an opportunity to stabilize oil and gasoline prices as well as the oil market. By lifting the ban on America exporting crude oil, American producers would be able to compete on an equal footing with their counterparts from around the world, create and maintain American jobs, and contribute to increased energy security and independence.

For well over a year, Heitkamp and Murkowski have been leading the charge in Congress to do away with the nation’s ban to open up one of its top commodities to global markets. The two senators crafted and introduced bipartisan, complementary bills expressly intended to merge, first by going through their respective committees to gain consideration and support. Just two months later, key elements of Heitkamp’s bill were incorporated into Murkowski’s Offshore Production and National Security (OPENS) Act which passed in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that she chairs – only two days after the Senate Banking Committee discussed Heitkamp’s bill. The passage of Heitkamp’s bipartisan American Crude Oil Export Equality Act in the Senate Committee on Banking today brings their effort one step closer to lifting the antiquated ban on oil exports.

By lifting the 40-year ban on all American produced crude oil exports, Heitkamp and Murkowski are working to make sure that crude oil is treated and authorized for export in the same way as petroleum exports – which means allowing for open export of all types of U.S. crude oil.

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. Prior to introducing legislation with Murkowski, the two Senators first pushed together for an amendment to lift the ban to legislation that would give Congress the ability to review any nuclear deal with Iran. They then worked together on two similar amendments to the National Defense Reauthorization Act in June.

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