The following blog post is from Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, and is cross-posted from the Huffington Post.
It’s expected that the House will soon vote on a bill to lift the long-standing ban on crude oil exports. We should take a step back and see how this 180-degree shift in policy will impact us all. Lifting the export ban would not only risk undoing recent gains in America’s energy security, but would also threaten jobs, economic security and the environment.
The bill—H.R. 702—would amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and would prohibit any federal office from imposing or enforcing the ban on crude oil exports.
In terms of economic impact, lifting the crude oil ban would provide an incentive for companies to move refining offshore, which would impact jobs of the men and women employed at U.S. refineries and the communities that rely on the tax base generated from these wages. Refinery and related industry occupations are good paying, middle-class jobs. They support more than $1.8 million in value-added to the economy per employee, which translates to jobs that support families and sustain local economies and communities.
Removing the ban would be bad for our environment. In 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that lifting the export ban would increase greenhouse gases and other emissions and increase the risk of oil spills. In that report, the GAO referenced a report by Resources for the Future, which estimated that lifting the ban would increase carbon dioxide emissions worldwide by almost 22 million metric tons per year. What’s more, shifting refining to parts of the world with lower environmental and labor standards may result in higher carbon emissions and greater environmental impacts overall.
This effort would also undermine the efforts of the federal and state governments to encourage upgrades at refinery facilities to meet new environmental standards and other investments that will lower the environmental footprint at these facilities. One such example—the EPA Tier 3 sulfur standard rule—will lower the overall sulfur content in gasoline from 30ppm to 10ppm, reducing asthma attacks and eliminating millions of tons of harmful emissions from the atmosphere.
It’s time for Congress, instead, to get to work to improve safety for U.S. oil industry workers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This bill is bad for our economy and the environment and Congress should reject it.