Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Who Wins, Who Loses if the U.S. Starts Exporting Oil?

Pumpjacks near Watford City, North Dakota
Pumpjacks near Watford City, North DakotaPhotograph by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It’s been simmering for more than a year, but the debate over whether to lift a nearly 40-year ban on U.S. crude oil exports kicked into high gear this week with Republican lawmakers, big business leaders, and of course oil lobbyists all calling it an outdated policy that needs to end.

In what at least appeared to be a coordinated effort, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski gave a speech on Tuesday morning at the Brookings Institution urging President Obama to end the ban and unleash America’s oil bonanza onto the world market. A few hours later, on the other side of downtown D.C. at the Newseum, Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said roughly the same thing: The oil ban distorts markets, and given the surge in U.S. oil production, a protectionist measure put in place as a reaction to the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s is no longer practical. “It’s a new day,” said Gerard. “It’s a new time.”