Senate Dems press for study on crude exports

By:  The Hill – Laura Barron-Lopez
Source: The Hill

A pair of Senate Democrats want the Energy Department's stat shop to conduct a thorough study detailing how crude oil exports would impact gas prices.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) sent a letter to the Energy Information Administration on Thursday, asking that a "comprehensive" study begin on possible impacts of lifting the nation's decades-old crude oil export ban. 

The senators noted that talk of changing or repealing the ban due to surges in domestic oil production have increased in Congress.

"It’s important that everyone has the facts before such a major decision is made," Wyden said in a statement. "Sen. Cantwell and I want Americans to understand how expanded crude exports, should they be allowed, would affect each and every region of the country."

The letter asks for more information on how lifting the ban would affect oil production, consumption, and domestic supplies and prices.

Wyden and Cantwell also asked that potential routes and methods for transporting the oil to ports be identified in the report.

The senators expressed concern that repealing the ban could result in more oil trains passing through the Pacific Northwest, as it is a known shipping point for crude oil on its way to Asian markets from the Bakken region.

Concern over several recent crude-by-rail accidents was also mentioned by the duo, who have urged federal regulators to crack down on inspections and ensure oil train traffic doesn't open up nearby communities to risks.

On Tuesday, House Democrats pushed for a hearing on the potential economic and environmental impacts of lifting the crude export ban.

In the past month, talks have escalated in Congress on whether it is time to change the policy. The White House also chimed in, following the first Senate hearing on crude exports in 25 years, stating the administration would "evaluate policy options as needed."