GOP Will Lift the Oil Export Ban by Giving Dems More Green Energy Subsidies
House lawmakers have agreed on a deal to lift the four-decade-old ban on oil exports in exchange for extending green energy subsidies, including tax breaks for solar and wind energy producers.
The oil-for-green-subsidies deal comes after months of Republicans pushing for legislation to repeal the oil export ban, arguing it’s antiquated and is holding back America’s oil boom.
Democrats have opposed lifting the oil export ban but have pushed for more green energy to fight global warming. Sources told The Hill newspaper that Republicans caved to more green energy tax breaks to get Democratic support in the Senate. Lawmakers have even agreed to extend controversial tax credits for wind energy production and solar panels installation.
Conservative groups opposed extending green energy taxes. While free market groups certainly support exporting U.S. oil, they don’t seem to like the deal Congress has before it.
“This tax extenders deal is another example of the worst of Washington politics,” Tom Pyle, president of the free market American Energy Alliance wrote in a blog post. “It’s no wonder Congress’ approval rating is at an all time low.”
For months, Republicans and pro-oil groups have pushed for lifting the oil export ban, despite the current glut of oil on international markets. U.S. companies have been barred from shipping oil abroad since the 1970s, which has benefitted refiners who can buy oil from American companies at a slight discount.
“The Republicans are right to fight for lifting the oil export ban, as it would reduce gasoline prices for families and enhance U.S. energy security,” Pyle said. “But not at any price. Extending the wind PTC sends billions of tax dollars to large corporations like GE while advancing the Obama administration’s climate agenda and fulfilling the president’s promise to make electricity prices skyrocket.”
Opposition to allowing oil exports has even created one of the oddest coalitions of convenience: environmentalists and refiners. Environmental groups, like the Sierra Club have argued against exporting oil because it “would risk the closure of a number of the 140 U.S. oil refineries, leaving thousands of American workers jobless.” It’s odd because the Sierra Club opposes the use of oil for power.
Republican efforts to lift the ban on oil exports have hit some bumps. In early 2015, conservative groups turned against a previous bill to lift the export ban because it allegedly contained a “union buy off.” That bill said lifting the export ban would increase federal revenues $1.4 billion over the next decade.
Extending green energy taxes, however, would end up costing the federal government billions in foregone revenues, according to past estimates. With oil prices so low, the feds may not see $1.4 billion in new revenues, means the deal could end up losing the government way more money over the years.
“This reported deal is an insult to the American people, especially the poor and middle class who can least afford higher energy prices,” Pyle wrote.
The White House has come out against lifting the export ban, but the Obama administration may be open to allowing exports if green energy tax extenders are on the table.
“We oppose legislation that would lift the ban on the exporting of American crude oil,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. “But we certainly do want to see Congress … make the kinds of investments in renewable and clean energy that are good for our economy and have the potential to create good American middle-class jobs down the line.”
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