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Lifting Crude Oil Export Ban Locks in Fossil Fuel Dependency for Decades to Come

Energy

One year ago this week, Gov. Cuomo banned fracking in New York, listening to the growing movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. So it’s especially disheartening that Congress, through a provision included in the omnibus appropriation, has just lifted the decades-old crude oil export ban—locking us into fossil fuel dependence for decades to come. At a time when we need to be investing in making a rapid transition to 100 percent clean energy, this decision would move us in the opposite direction.

The Democratic leadership traded this ban for a small extension of taxes that support renewable energy. The tax credit for solar will be extended and phased down over five years, with the credit for residential solar eliminated after 2021. The tax credit for wind will be cut each year until it is eliminated in 2020.

The decision by President Obama and Democratic leadership to cave in to the demands of the fossil fuel cartel will harm Americans in order to give oil companies larger profits. Lifting the export ban will give these companies hundreds of billions of dollars in new profits over the next decade, while leading to more drilling and fracking for oil and increased greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll see more oil trains through towns and cities and an armada of Exxon Valdez-sized ships on our oceans.

It has been estimated that lifting the crude oil export ban could lead to an increase in oil production of 3.3 million barrels a day and as many as 7,600 new wells drilled each year. Most of those wells will be fracked. The increases in drilling and fracking could lead to annual increases in greenhouse gas emissions on par with building 135 new coal fired electric power plants.

Instead of giving in to oil industry demands, Congress should be taking bold action investing in renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar and making investments to improve our energy efficiency and expand public transit. Exporting domestic crude oil will hasten climate change, endanger public health, and threaten our air and water in order to give oil executives their number one item on their wish list: billions of dollars in profits. This isn’t the bold leadership we need.

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Protesters gathered outside US Bank and Wells Fargo locations around the U.S. to protest investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline on Dec. 1, 2016. This photo is from a protest outside US Bank in south Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Jake Johnson

As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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