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Democratic Senators reintroduce bill to reinstate US crude oil export ban

A trio of Democratic U.S. senators reintroduced a bill Sept. 25 that would direct the president to reinstate the ban on U.S. crude oil exports.

Introduced by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., The Block All New Oil Exports Act, or BAN Oil Exports Act, would amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act by directing the president "to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the United States," exempting exports the president determines to be in the national interest and "the purposes" of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The bill would also allow the president to direct the secretary of commerce to impose export restrictions on "coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks."

"It makes no sense to deploy our men and women in uniform to Saudi Arabia to protect their oil, while we still export our own overseas," Markey said, referring to the Trump administration's decision to deploy troops to protect Saudi oil assets from attacks. "The Trump administration and the oil industry are sending U.S. oil overseas to the highest bidder even as we still import millions of barrels of oil every day from nations around the world in unstable regions."

Amid growing domestic production, U.S. crude oil exports have surged since the ban was lifted in December 2015, leading companies to steer investments to accommodate that growth. The U.S. exported 94.8 million barrels, or 3.2 million barrels per day, of crude oil in June, up 43.6% from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Amid the growth, the U.S. still imports enough crude oil to supply nearly half of its domestic refinery runs, which experts say is necessary because U.S. refineries require specific grades of crude oil.