UPDATE: The House abandoned a weak, bi-partisan bill in favor of an extreme energy wishlist -- their bill legalizing crude oil exports, expediting fracking exports and worse, is likely to come to the floor SOON. Meanwhile, in the Senate, a key committee is set to advance Sen. Lisa Murkowski's crude oil export bill based on the support from Democratic Co-sponsor Heidi Heitkamp.
They're trying to ram through an oil exports bill this fall, before overwhelming public opposition takes it off the table; the way legislation ramming through the Keystone XL pipeline is no longer politically viable. But Heitkamp, claims "If [the oil exports] passes in the Committee, the bill will head to the Senate floor for a vote."1
Now is the time to rally our forces and tell every member of the Senate "The Ban Must Stand!" Sign here if you agree and then share with all your friends to make sure the Senate gets the message.
Over in the House, Republicans abandoned a bipartisan bill in committee and instead passed legislation legalizing oil exports and lots of other bad ideas on a party line vote.2 That bill is expected to move quickly to the floor, where Republicans control proceedings more tightly, but Democrats are already signaling their disapproval. And, more to the point, they're saying that the real fight will come in the Senate, where Murkowski and her allies still don't have the votes they need to pass a bill or sustain it over a presidential veto, which is possible.
Heitkamp, the House committee and Murkowski are all charging hard for oil exports because they know this fall is their one best chance to kill the ban. The idea of crude oil exports has become a rallying cry among fossil fuel backers - even drawing shout-outs from Republican presidential candidates like Jeb Bush.3 That's because the walls are closing in on Big Oil: With oil prices still low, companies like Shell are finding it harder and harder to justify going to ever more extreme ends to find oil in America. This week Shell gave up (for now) on plans to drill the Arctic.4 Next up on the chopping block could be other extreme drilling like fracking, or risky and expensive transportation projects like the Keystone Pipeline and Bomb Train shipments of crude oil by rail.
If Big Oil can slide their bill through in the next few months, while most people's attention is on the next government shutdown or the presidential race, they'll lock in profits for decades to come (and presumably reward the politicians who helped with generous campaign donations). But the idea is unpopular: More drilling and shipping crude oil poses big risks to our land, water and climate. More of us will live next door to a drilling rig as they expand production in the Arctic, the Bakken (America's tar sands) and off the Atlantic Coast. And even if you don't live next to the drillers, your community will be at risk as more and more bomb trains, pipelines and tankers traverse our nation and the world carrying perilous petroleum.5
That's why a majority of Americans, including 75 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of Independents and 61 percent of Republicans all oppose lifting the ban.6 If Heitkamp, Murkowski and their allies can slide an export bill through the Senate this fall, none of that will matter. But if we stop them right now, we can keep millions of barrels of crude oil locked up in the ground, where it belongs, and avoid dozens of potential spills and leaks. It all comes down to the next few weeks and whether we can hold the line in the Senate. Last year, we won a similar fight to uphold the president's Keystone XL veto by the narrowest of margins, with your help we can do the same with this climate killing bill. Click here to make sure we do it again, and keep the crude oil export ban intact, so we can protect our communities and our climate.
Thanks for supporting our climate,
Drew and the Crude Oil Swan Song crew at Environmental Action
1 - Eric Wolff et all, If it's October, it's ozone, Politico Morning Energy, October 1, 2015
2 - Marc Boom, House Energy Bill Goes Off The Rails, NRDC Switchboard, September 30, 2015
3 - Matt Flegenheimer, Jeb Bush Calls for Ending Ban on Crude Oil Exports, New York Times, September 29, 2015
4 - Terry Macalister, Shell abandons Alaska Arctic drilling, The Guardian, September 28, 2015
5 - Matt Lee-Ashley and Alison Cassady, The Environmental Impacts of Exporting More American Crude Oil, Center for American Progress, August 21, 2015.
6 - Hart Research Associates, Public Opinion on the Use of Domestic Oil, December 19, 2014