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November 06, 2015

The Journal Record: Inhofe: Time to lift the export ban

In 1973, when gasoline prices averaged less than 40 cents per gallon, turmoil in the Middle East yielded an oil embargo against the United States.

Shortages of gasoline and long lines at filling stations became the norm – a memory deeply set in our history. Washington responded by putting in place a ban on the export of our oil.

It’s understandable why energy scarcity became a national fear. But by the mid-2000s, advances in horizontal drilling technology opened up America’s shale revolution. With it came growing opportunities for many of Oklahoma’s energy companies.

Oil production is now 97 percent higher in Oklahoma than it was just five years ago. Across the United States, energy production has increased to the point that we’ve become the largest oil and natural gas producer in the world.

With these advancements, the purpose of the oil export ban has become outdated. Rather than protect Americans from shortages in oil, the ban has contributed significantly to the thousands of job losses we’ve seen across the state. Low oil prices, combined with a captive market, are forcing domestic producers to take below-market prices when compared to our competitors around the world.

Lifting the ban on oil exports would enable Oklahoma’s energy companies to get the true market price for their oil that otherwise amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost profits for Oklahoma’s energy producers each year.

This would help stem the tide of job losses while the industry recovers and finds a new equilibrium. But the good news doesn’t stop at the office building: Study after study has shown that allowing free trade in oil will also lower gasoline prices at the pump.

When the auto industry was facing dramatic job losses, congressional Democrats bailed them out. Oklahoma doesn’t need that. What we need is for the federal government to get out of the way. Now is the time to lift the ban on oil exports.

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