Congress' Omnibus Bill; Minus Few Lumps of Coal, Historic Win for U.S. Energy

David Williams

December 22, 2015

Last week, the 114th Congress approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill that has now been signed into law by President Obama.  As is the case with any government package this size, Congress’ omnibus bill contains its fair share of lumps of coal for taxpayers including 365 Defense earmarks worth $14.8 billion, solar and wind subsidies, and a wasted $175 million in taxpayer dollars for the Essential Air Services program. However, with that being said, the package also includes language lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports. Put simply, this provision—strongly supported by Democrats and Republicans—is being chalked up as a major win for America consumers. And for good reason.

Maintaining the nearly 40-year-old ban on domestic crude oil exports no longer makes sense. The U.S. is the leading producer of oil and natural gas globally, and has within reach the opportunity to become the world’s leader in energy resources. The benefits of allowing U.S. crude oil exports covers everything from increased economic benefits here at home, to downward pressure on gasoline prices,, to significantly increased diplomatic and security relations with our nation’s key allies.

Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) Senior Fellow Drew Johnson laid out the case for why the ban should be lifted back in November in an op-ed for The Washington Times:

The firm IHS estimates that a repeal would boost domestic oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day and create an average of 400,000 new jobs per year between now and 2030 – with a peak of 1 million new jobs in 2018. Gas prices would drop by as much as 12 cents per gallon, saving U.S. motorists $265 billion over the next 15 years.

Repealing the ban would also add between $600 billion and $1.8 trillion to the gross domestic product (GDP) through 2039, according to the nonpartisan Brookings Institution…

Global security will improve as well. U.S. exports will drive foreign prices down slightly, but the bigger impact will be a more stable supply for our allies and a reduced dependency on hostile nations.

Just a few months ago TPA was congratulating the House of Representatives for moving forward with the ban after a historic vote on lifting the ban was held as H.R. 702 passed 261-159 with Republican and Democrat support. While TPA urged the Senate to pass similar legislation to get something on President Obama’s desk, the House vote set up weeks of negotiations that would eventually see the language for lifting the ban included in the omnibus.

The bipartisan measure to lift the ban on crude oil exports is merely the first step in bringing additional economic security to the U.S. and taxpayers from coast to coast. Taxpayers deserve an energy policy that moves the country toward energy independence and lifting the crude oil ban provides a path to that goal. TPA applauds Congress for working across party lines and with the President to modernize our nation’s energy agenda as we move into the new year.