Washington Post, Sunday, August 2, 2015
IMAGINE THERE were a simple policy that would spur economic growth, lower gas prices and please international allies. This policy exists: removing the United States’ irrational and outdated ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil. A bill lifting the ban passed a Senate committee last week, a day after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he, too, supported bringing the country fully into the international oil market.
Congress imposed the ban amid the oil shocks of the 1970s in a desperate move to tame gasoline prices. Lately, the situation has changed: U.S. crude oil production rocketed up 74 percent from 2008 through 2014. That has led to a glut here at home, where crude oil is selling at a discount relative to world prices. Yet the ban’s superficial logic still appears to hold some power: Lifting the export restrictions, one might imagine, would send more oil abroad, which would raise gasoline prices here and hurt the economy.