The United States is closer to begin exporting oil. The Senate Energy Committee passed a bill last week that would lift a decades-old ban on the export of crude oil. The 22-member panel approved the initiative to allow the US to export oil and boost state revenue-sharing for offshore oil and gas drilling by a vote of 12-10.
Senate Energy Committee chair Lisa Murkowski, a Republican senator from Alaska, has been a long-time advocate for lifting the ban, which she said was outdated due to the rise of the United States as an energy power.
In addition to unlocking crude oil exports, the bill would also speed up exports of liquefied natural gas and ensure that states that have offshore oil and gas development get their share of federal revenues.
The bill will move to the Senate floor for wider debate later this month. Industry groups welcomed the bill's passage and said it would be a boon to the U.S. economy and national security.
Free trade in energy will allow America to harness the full economic opportunities created by our energy revolution, said American Petroleum Institute Executive Vice President Louis Finkel.
Jamie McInerney of export lobby group Pace said Passage of this bill will help America realize its potential as an energy superpower and adds to the growing momentum in both houses of Congress to lift the outdated ban on oil exports.
The vote comes after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner for the first time voiced his support for lifting the domestic oil export ban, which experts said signaled momentum for an overhaul of 40-year-old energy policy.
The committee also voted 18-4 to back a broader energy bill, which supports workforce training in the energy sector and streamlines permitting for natural gas pipelines.
Some of the work that we've been doing and working very hard on to convince our colleagues to support us I think has been bearing fruit. I think that we're building consensus that this is a policy that needs to be changed. Now we're just trying to figure out how we need to to build a package that gets broader support, said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota.