Obama loosens 4-decade ban on crude oil exports

From the mouths of the Wall Street Journal (subscr. may be required), we learn that Obama, via his administration, which we pay him to control, has opened the door to international sales of unrefined American oil for the first time since the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s (my emphasis throughout):

U.S. Ruling Loosens Four-Decade Ban On Oil Exports

Shipments of Unrefined American Oil Could Begin as Early as August

The Obama administration cleared the way for the first exports of unrefined American oil in nearly four decades, allowing energy companies to start chipping away at the longtime ban on selling U.S. oil abroad.

In separate rulings that haven’t been announced, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP permission to ship a type of ultralight oil known as condensate to foreign buyers. The buyers could turn the oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

Climate via Shutterstock

Climate via Shutterstock

The shipments could begin as soon as August and are likely to be small, people familiar with the matter said. It isn’t clear how much oil the two companies are allowed to export under the rulings, which were issued since the start of this year. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security approved the moves using a process known as a private ruling.

For now, the rulings apply narrowly to the two companies, which said they sought permission to export processed condensate from south Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale formation. The government’s approval is likely to encourage similar requests from other companies, and the Commerce Department is working on industrywide guidelines that could make it even easier for companies to sell U.S. oil abroad.

In a statement Tuesday night, the Commerce Department said there has been “no change in policy on crude oil exports.”

“No change in policy”? Right. Who do you trust, the Commerce Department or your lying eyes? Trust me; as the article points out, the floodgates for these applications will open wide.

As the article makes clear, the original reasoning had to do with the politics of the oil embargo itself. After the ban, U.S. companies could export refined products, but not unrefined, or “crude.” The modern justification for lifting the ban has to do with … profit.

[A]s drilling companies tap shale formations across the U.S., so much oil is flooding out of the ground that prices for ultralight oil have fallen as much as $10 or more below the price of traditional crude. As a result, producers have lobbied aggressively to relax the export ban, saying they could get a higher price from foreign buyers than from U.S. refiners.

Why worry about climate change when there’s money? That’s not oil in those tankers and pipelines; that’s cash. And it’s Obama’s job, and every other president’s so far, to not get between the owners of carbon and their profit-making (sorry, job-creating).

Obama’s words and your lying eyes

Your takeaway? This is another example of Obama protecting the profits of the carbon industry, while at the same time he laments the damage it does. Obama’s words, spoken to a recent commencement audience at UC Irvine:

[S]ince this is a very educated group, you already know the science.  Burning fossil fuels release carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years.

How is that not totally explicit? How is that not the perfect problem statement? It sounds like he believes it, understands it. More:

We know the trends.  The 18 warmest years on record have all happened since you graduates were born.  We know what we see with our own eyes.  Out West, firefighters brave longer, harsher wildfire seasons; states have to budget for that.  Mountain towns worry about what smaller snowpacks mean for tourism.  Farmers and families at the bottom worry about what it will mean for their water.  In cities like Norfolk and Miami, streets now flood frequently at high tide.  Shrinking icecaps have National Geographic making the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart.

So the question is not whether we need to act.  The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed over decades, has put that question to rest.  The question is whether we have the will to act before it’s too late.  For if we fail to protect the world we leave not just to my children, but to your children and your children’s children, we will fail one of our primary reasons for being on this world in the first place.

Yet “act” means deeds, and he’s damned from his own mouth. Read that again, then consider Obama selling coal off of federal lands. Or the news in this very story. Or the huge gift to the kings of the methane industry his top energy aide Heather Zichal just organize, right before they handed her a huge gift in return.

Who do you trust? Obama’s words, or your lying eyes?

His words fly up, his deeds remain below:
Words without deeds never to heaven go.

From Shakespeare’s Hamlet. You could look it up.


Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
Gaius Publi

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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22 Responses to “Obama loosens 4-decade ban on crude oil exports”

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  5. perljammer says:

    “He used to”

    [citation needed]

  6. lynchie says:

    Two directorships and 3 offshore bank accounts.

  7. FLL says:

    No need to read Arabic. This is very well documented. Hatred of anyone who is non-Muslim. Special hate reserved for Jews. There has been an international outcry for years against the Saudi government to delete some of this stuff in their elementary-school and high-school textbooks. I’m surprised that you’ve never heard of this. OK. I’ll find some specific examples. This is just a smattering from NPR and the Daily Beast:



  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    There’s not much point in impeachment.

  9. RNegron says:

    You all seem to be missing the really important thing here… How is this Obama’s fault and can we impeach him for it.

  10. BillFromDover says:

    Well, I guess this means that we have finally reached energy independence… yes?

    After all, how else can one interpret this?

    Does this also mean that Sean Hannity will finally shut the fuck up about his drill here, drill now, drill everywhere program?

  11. nicho says:

    I don’t read Arabic. So i can’t “take a look” at Saudi textbooks. Perhaps you can. Maybe you’ll enlighten us on the hate-filled textbooks. Examples would be nice.

  12. Ford Prefect says:

    This decision mostly makes sense to me if approving Keystone XL is already a fait accompli. Otherwise, how much crude could we realistically export? They talk up shale oil, but the results don’t seem all that impressive to me. This includes gas though too, right? That would make sense. Can’t wait for the exploding gas terminals they’re going to build.

    But if nothing else, we can finally put to bed the entire “energy independence” canard. Both parties will dig on this, with some rumbling from certain back benchers, but otherwise they’ll be happy because Rex Tillerson et al will be happy. So anyone now spouting that phrase may be verbally spanked with appropriate gusto.

    Why does Obama hate us so much? Even putting aside climate change for a moment, he’s basically making sure the US economy has no energy reserves of its own. He’s destabilizing our economy in a massive way, by destabilizing energy futures. Right? He’s doing to our energy supplies what his predecessors did to our manufacturing jobs. So energy prices will now go up, without any palpable benefit, thus throttling the economy even more.

    I nominate him for Wanker Of The Millenium, subject to future replacement by someone even worse… which will probably be his deliriously jaded successor.

  13. FLL says:

    The mantra of most government officials during these last seven years has been “independence from foreign oil.” I agree with you that this is part of the reason for the 20 percent drop in public support for pollution controls. When they refer to foreign oil, I don’t think they’re talking about supplies from Norway, Mexico or Australia. I think they’re referring to potentially hostile oil suppliers in the Middle East. If you take a look at the textbooks that Saudi schoolchildren use, you’ll notice that they are a study in hate.

    Only serious development of alternative sources of energy (solar, hydro, non-gasoline cars, etc.) would make the U.S. independent of Middle Eastern suppliers without destroying the environment.

  14. nicho says:

    It’s also one of the goals of “austerity.” Make people desperate enough and things like clean air and clean water take a back seat to putting food on the table.

  15. nicho says:

    Meanwhile, the FCC has voted to end net neutrality and the Supreme Corporate Court has said that right-wing extremists can terrorize women seeking health care. What part of “corporate dictatorship” is unclear?

  16. gratuitous says:

    So, will Sarah Palin emerge to give her endorsement to this ruling? Because that’s the only way criticism of this can be voiced without a round of “Oh, so you’d rather have President Romney” comments that are so very clever.

  17. nicho says:

    He used to, but he sold it

  18. nicho says:

    But I thought that if we had more oil here, prices would drop. Drill, baby, drill, and all that. We have enough to ship out of the country?

  19. GarySFBCN says:

    “Why did public support for pollution go down 20 percent between 2007 and 2014?”

    This was a long-term goals of the propagandists who wanted security to trump environmental concerns. This is our post 9/11 reality.

  20. caphillprof says:

    Barack Obama has no soul.

  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is part and parcel of a package to export polluting materials, further degrade the global environment, increase global warming and climate change. It’s not a plot, it’s just the way the rich and the lap dogs in the WH and Congress act.

    Published on Thursday, April 10, 2014 by The Guardian and then by Common Dreams


    Why US Fracking Companies Are Licking Their Lips Over Ukraine – From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain – what I call the shock doctrine… The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with
    fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin’s fossil
    fuels, and enhancing US ƒnational security.

    For this ploy to work, it’s important not to look too closely at details. Like the fact that much of the gas probably won’t make it to Europe – because what the bills allow is for gas to be sold on the world market to any country belonging to the World Trade Organisation.”

  22. FLL says:

    Here is a link to a Gallup article from a few weeks ago showing public support for pollution controls having dropped between 2007 and today. In 2007, when Bush was still in power, it was 84% and today it is 65%. Still, 65% is a very solid majority, so, by encouraging the sale of U.S. oil abroad, the Obama administration is successfully ignoring public opinion and what some Americablog commenters have referred to as mass movements. So, Gaius, I’ll offer two possible scenarios in which a more environmentally responsible policy will begin. Tell me which of the two you think is more likely, or let me know if there’s a third scenario that I’ve overlooked.

    (1) Elected governments have an often profound effect on the world and can (once elected) act against public opinion. Only being replaced in the next election will effect a change.

    (2) During the next two years (i.e., before the 2016 election) public opinion (or mass movements, if you prefer) will likely force the Obama administration to reverse any of its decisions that favor oil, coal and fracking.

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