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Lisa M.
Republican AK

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  • Oil Export Ban

    by Senator Lisa Murkowski

    Posted on 2015-12-17

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    MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I thank not only the Senator from North Dakota but many others for the effort that has been made to get us to this point where we will soon have the opportunity to vote to lift a 40-year-old ban on export.

    We are the only Nation in the world that produces oil that limits our ability to export that. It is a policy that 40 years ago may have made sense at that time, but it is so outdated. It is so past time that we recognize we are that energy superpower, and, as that energy superpower, act like one.

    The Senator from North Dakota mentioned there were very few people initially who thought this could be done. In January of 2014, I gave a speech to the Brookings Institute, and I called for repeal of the ban. At that time, I was the first policymaker who really got out front and said what a lot were thinking but were thinking maybe this was way too soon.

    A couple months later, I had the opportunity to lay out a framework or a pathway forward--a pathway that said we are not going to lay down legislation right now; we are going to build the case, and 2014 is going to be the year of the report. There were some dozen reports--very considered, substantive reports--that came out and said: This isn't going to increase the price of oil. This is going to be good for jobs and our economy. This is going to be great, important, and vital for our role around the world to help our allies and to help others who would like to rely on our energy resources rather than on Russia or Iran.

    So that path was set. I think it set the table for where we are now, in 2015. We were able to introduce legislation, to have it heard by our committee, to move the bill out of committee, to see the House do the same and move it across the floor, and to get us then to the point where we could consider it in various legislative vehicles. It didn't quite work with NDAA. It didn't quite work with the Iran deal. It didn't quite work with the transportation bill. But now we are here with this omnibus package.

    [[Page S8758]] Again, recognizing that this is so substantive from a domestic policy perspective is something that I think the occupant of the Chair, as well as Senator Heitkamp, as well as Senator Heinrich from New Mexico-- all producing States--can recognize the enormous gains. But I think we also need to consider the very real, very substantive difference that we will make when as an energy superpower are able to share our resources--whether it is oil, whether it is natural gas--to help whether it is our friends in Europe, whether it is Poland, which is 95- percent reliant on Russia for its oil, whether it is South Korea or Japan.

    Alaska has been able to export its oil since 1996, when we received basically a waiver. We have seen the benefits that oil exports bring. Our State has had the ability to do so. Why should the rest of the country not see that benefit? Again, since 1996, with our oil, we have exported our natural gas from Cook Inlet, and it has actually been the longest term export contract that this country has seen as far as natural gas. We have seen the benefit. We know that when we are the export trading partner, we as a nation benefit from it. Whether it is jobs, revenues, growth or prosperity, this is good, this is a win, and it is very important. Again, I appreciate the efforts of so many that have brought us to the place that we are today.

    I think we acknowledge that, yes, there are heavy legislative lifts around here. But I think we work constructively to build the case, to try to depoliticize to the extent possible, to avoid the partisanship that can come into specific issues, by saying: Let's examine this from a policy perspective. Does it make sense to lift sanctions on Iran for their oil and keep in place a ban on our U.S. oil producers, effectively sanctioning U.S. oil producers? I think we got a lot of colleagues when we raised that question to them: Think about it from a policy perspective and whether it is good or outdated. This one is outdated, and it was time to go.

    So I thank Senator Heitkamp for yielding for just a moment and allowing me to speak very briefly to what I think is very significant for this country, both domestically and internationally. Let's let the United States of America be that energy superpower that we are.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.


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