House Votes to Lift Ban on US Oil Exports

House Votes to Lift Ban on US Oil ExportsHouse Votes to Lift Ban on US Oil Exports

A bill to repeal the 40-year-old ban on US oil exports passed the House of Representatives on Friday, but faces an uncertain future after a veto threat by President Barack Obama.

The bill sponsored by Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, passed the House 261 to 159, failing to reach the 290 votes necessary to overturn a presidential veto, Reuters reported. The White House this week threatened to veto the House bill, saying Congress should work to move the country to cleaner sources of energy.

The administration advocated measures, including ending billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies and instead investing in wind and solar power, and energy efficiency.

Congress passed the ban after the 1970s Arab oil embargo that sent domestic gasoline prices skyrocketing.

"Much has changed since the ban on crude was put in place," Representative Fred Upton, a Republican of Michigan. "One of the biggest threats to the American energy boom today is not an international actor, but rather our own ban on oil exports."

Proponents say allowing oil exports would eliminate market distortions, create jobs and stimulate more US petroleum production, which has increased 80% since 2008 and has helped drive down the global price of oil to half of what it was in the summer of 2014. Lifting the ban also could help companies fetch higher prices. Opponents of lifting the ban say it will cost jobs in refineries and shipbuilding.

The oil market had a muted reaction to the House vote, in part because of the prolonged low prices that have sapped the oil industry’s overall activity for several months. The US benchmark settled up 20 cents, or 0.4%, at $49.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising above $50 a barrel earlier in the session.