Perhaps the most important policy change in the 2,009 pages of the massive Omnibus spending bill comes in the form of just 18 words: “no official of the Federal Government shall impose or enforce any restriction on the export of crude oil.”
This brief provision would undo 40 years of bad policy – a longstanding restriction on the ability of American oil producers to sell their product internationally. With oil prices hovering around a mere $40 a barrel, the move to allow exports would open up new markets for our producers. This would spur increased domestic production and create jobs and a great deal of economic activity in the process.
In fact, one economic analysis from IHS found that lifting the export ban would create almost 1 million new jobs. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the increased production and associated royalty payments would bring in approximately $1.4 billion to the federal government over the next 10 years.
That’s why in October, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would lift the ban on oil exports with a strong bipartisan vote of 261 to 159. Now, the Omnibus bill provides a convenient vehicle for this policy to be enacted into law.
It’s overwhelmingly clear that Congress should lift the ban on oil exports immediately. In this sluggish economy, it should make a habit of enacting policies that remove artificial, government-imposed barriers to commerce. Doing so would go a long way toward stimulating economic growth and creating new jobs.