Earthjustice, Oil Change International, and Sightline Institute have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) seeking details on the Bureau’s criteria for recently approving multiple significant exceptions to the nation’s crude oil export ban.
In the past year, the BIS has issued rulings exempting certain crude oil streams from the licensing process. The agency is quietly eroding the export ban and effectively initiating a major change in U.S. energy policy, yet it refuses to publicly disclose the reasoning behind its decisions.
Lorne Stockman, research director for Oil Change International, notes, “The US oil industry is desperate to kill the export ban and raise the price it receives for U.S. oil by selling to the highest bidder. Big Oil has clearly intensified its lobbying in Washington and has obtained concessions behind closed doors. This process needs to be daylighted in order to discover whose interests are being served.”
Eric de Place, policy director for Sightline Institute, adds, “This is a key moment in national energy policy. We’re talking about expanded drilling on sensitive lands, transport risks shouldered disproportionately by port regions like the Gulf Coast and Northwest, and of course, exacerbated climate disruption.”
Patti Goldman, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northwest office, states, “Eroding the crude oil export ban in place for more than 40 years is incredibly controversial. At a time when the nation has made a commitment to reduce climate-warming emissions and the renewable energy sector is going gangbusters in job creation, U.S. energy policy should reject any measure that encourages more drilling and more production of highly polluting crude oil. Decisions like this by the BIS need to be transparent and made with full public participation.”