Presidential veto threat makes House vote on lifting oil export ban seem futile

Presidential veto threat makes House vote on lifting oil export ban seem futile

Despite the political manouevring and speculation about a bill to lift the US ban on oil exports it will probably all be in vain if White House obstruction is as serious as it appears.

The word from the Barack Obama administration had already been negative about the bill – which could create a knock-on boost for shipping business.

But the latest reiterations of the executive’s position make it seem inevitable that if it reaches the Oval Office desk the presidential veto will be applied.

Citing its preference for more proactive renewable energy alternatives, the administration said the bill – which goes to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote on Friday – “is not needed at this time”. They say the Commerce Department’s existing authority to approve selective exports is adequate.

Supporters of the bill, which would end a 40-year ban on exporting crude, are mostly Republicans plus some Democrats, although not all Republicans are on board either – especially those with refineries in their areas.

Even though Friday’s House bill is expected to pass, the outcome of a later Senate vote is unclear, so the ball may not end up in the president’s court.

The ban’s original purpose was in response to the Middle East-generated oil crisis of the 1970s when America faced gasoline shortages. Those conditions, opponents say, are not relevant in these times of glut and increased domestic production, making the law very outdated.

The US is the only oil producing country with such a ban.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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