House Speaker John Boehner endorsed ending a ban on most U.S. oil exports, giving his support to the lobbying by energy producers to end limits imposed four decades ago.
Oil exports would provide a “big boost to the economy,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday at the Capitol. He didn’t say when a vote may happen.
“America is experiencing an energy boom and our policy needs to follow suit,” he said.
Congress imposed the restrictions in response to the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, which drove up domestic gasoline prices. Refined products such as gasoline and aviation fuel can be exported already.
U.S. oil producers pinched by declining oil prices have lobbied for more than a year to end the restrictions. Domestic producers argue selling oil overseas could help the industry rebound, and Boehner said allowing exports could create as many as 1 million jobs.
The Iran nuclear deal and a promise to eventually lift economic sanctions that now limit that nation’s oil exports has given proponents another argument to push. Boehner said U.S. oil drillers should also be able to sell overseas.
Jack Gerard, chief executive officer of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents Exxon Mobil Corp. and other major oil companies, made a similar argument in a news conference earlier Wednesday.
“U.S. energy producers should not be placed at a competitive disadvantage to anyone, whether it is Russia, Iran or any oil-producing country,” Gerard said.
A bill introduced by Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, has attracted 110 co-sponsors, including more than a dozen Democrats.
The path to approval, though, is considered tougher in the Senate, where any measure would need at least 60 votes to advance.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bill to lift the restrictions. But she excluded language on the export ban from a bipartisan bill that’s backed by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the top Democrat on the energy panel.