Debate Over Easing US Ban on Oil Exports

Debate Over Easing US Ban on Oil ExportsDebate Over Easing US Ban on Oil Exports

Lobbying over whether to scrap the four-decade-old US ban on exporting crude oil has almost doubled, as proponents push to build momentum toward a showdown likely to come sometime after the 2016 election.

The number of companies and groups trying to influence the outcome of legislation in Washington rose to 55 in the second quarter from 30 in the same period of last year, according to disclosures filed with Congress this week.

BP Plc and PBF Energy Inc. are on opposite sides of the debate dividing producers and refiners, Bloomberg reported. At issue is whether the US still needs export restrictions passed in 1975 on the heels of the Arab oil embargo that caused fuel shortages and long lines of cars at retail pumps. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have pushed US output to the highest level in 44 years.

“Whenever two groups are having at it, that is very good for the lobbying business,” Viveca Novak, editorial director at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, said July 22 by phone. “Lobbying will rise further as the debate probably will extend over years.”

Members of the House and Senate left the export ban out of bipartisan legislation most likely to move ahead in this session of Congress. While Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, has introduced a House crude measure that has more than 100 co-sponsors, a similar Senate bill has just four co-sponsors.