Don’t Buy the Environmental Hype Against Crude Oil Exports

Allies of our nation’s environmentalist movement are not about to let facts get in the way of swaying public opinion in their efforts to garner support for its overreaching agenda.  Case in point: a recent column by the Center for American Progress (CAP) attacking efforts to lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The attack, an example of political chess more than credible analysis, serves as a reminder to Americans to check the facts before forming an opinion on policy dictating America’s energy future at home and abroad.

In a move all-too-common in the environment movement, CAP attempts to garner support of its argument through scare tactics aimed squarely at consumers, concluding crude oil exports lack, “precise, independent, and credible estimates of the market and production effects.”  The issue with this conclusion is that it fails to acknowledge analysis from our own U.S. government agencies and expert opinion leaders in the field. Policy briefs by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have concluded that allowing U.S. exports of crude oil would generate increased supply to the global community, resulting in significantly less pressure on market prices and ultimately better economics for consumers.

CAP also argues that future drilling activity from oil exports will result in lost land mass the size of Delaware. If readers examine this claim more closely, they will see CAP cites land data from 2000 to 2012.  Significant advancements in drilling techniques that increased efficiency and environmental disruption, such as drilling multiple wells from a single well site, only gained traction in 2008 during our country’s shale boom.  In fact, even the U.S. National Park Service and environmental group EarthWorks praised increased protocols like horizontal drilling for its spatial efficiencies.

And where would environmentalists be without their favorite carbon pollution argument?  In its analysis, CAP concludes increased production of domestic barrels of crude oil would increase carbon pollution annually by more than 515 million metric tons.  The logic around this claim is more than questionable.  Their argument implies that U.S. exports of crude oil come on top of already-existing global supply.  CAP fails to realize that most crude oil shipped from the U.S. would replace existing sources from international suppliers, for instance Iranian crude stocks should the proposed nuclear agreement be implemented.  And even worse, it confuses a nutrient with a pollutant.

This reality was even echoed by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) who stated, “I candidly believe that American hydrocarbons are both extracted in a cleaner, more efficient way than Venezuela, then Russian… I believe you’re talking here about substitution, not increasing, carbon footprint.”

Finally, CAP’s column claims that the economic benefits of changing our U.S. crude oil policy are “neither well-documented nor well-understood.”  CAP blatantly ignores the multiple macroeconomic studies –from the Brookings Institution to the Aspen Institute to IHS – released over the last year that clearly laid out those economic benefits.  These include an analysis conducted by ICF International and EnSys Energy earlier this year confirming that lifting the ban would generate nearly $70 billion in domestic investments regarding energy production, exploration and development.  Not to mention increasing the current U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $20 billion as soon as 2020, with an additional 300,000 American jobs.

So lifting the antiquated ban on crude oil exports will bring about increased GDP, increased investment and increased employment.  I’ll admit, I fail to see how that isn’t “well-understood.”

The facts are clear: demand for oil will continue to rise internationally and domestically. We need to  bear in mind these realities and support energy policy that positions America as a successful global energy producer and  competitor.  Failure to do so and succumbing to environmental hype carries consequences we cannot afford.

This article appeared on the FuelFix website at http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/09/03/commentary-dont-buy-the-environmental-hype-against-crude-oil-exports/

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