The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to lift the longstanding ban on US oil exports, although it is probably a futile vote in terms of the legislation because the White House has firmly stated it intends to veto the bill, according to the Associated Press and Reuters.
A vote count of 249 to 174 for the “ayes” was convincing, reflecting Republican Party domination of the House, but still inadequate to override President Barack Obama’s power of veto.
Other versions of the same legislation have been working through both houses of Congress but face the same likely roadblock of the president’s pen.
Advocates of lifting the US oil-export ban – which is unique among major oil-producing countries – say that the circumstances of its original passing have long since changed and America is now extremely secure in its fossil-fuel supply.
The ban dates back to the 1970s when it was introduced as a reaction to the gasoline shortage that resulted from the policies of some Middle East producers, in turn linked to regional politics.
President Obama opposes ending the ban – under which selective exports are allowed on a case-by-case basis – because he prefers to emphasize green-energy options.
The Bill just passed by the House also includes other energy proposals such as provision to streamline the process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, and measures to encourage cross-border oil pipeline projects.
It must still get through the US Senate and, although that chamber is also Republican-controlled, it is not a sure thing to get the requisite votes there.