Omnibus Proposes to Scrap Outdated Oil Export Ban

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.