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Big Oil Push for Crude Exports Spells 'Disaster' for Climate: Report

Impact of lifting export ban would equal lifetime emissions of 42 coal plants

Lauren McCauley

A push by Big Oil interests to lift the decades-old ban on crude oil exports would effectively release over 4 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to a report published Monday by an environmental watchdog group.

The report, "Lifting the Ban, Cooking the Climate" (pdf), by Oil Change International, analyzes the climate impact should the U.S. cede to heavy lobbying efforts and eliminate existing regulations.

"Allowing U.S. crude oil exports will result in increased profits that will in turn result in increased oil production," the report argues.

According to the report, an average projected increase in U.S. crude oil to $10 per barrel would lead to an additional 9.9 billion barrels of production between 2015 and 2050. That production would release over 4.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is equal to the lifetime emissions of 42 coal plants.

"Big Oil’s leading lobbyists from ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute have led the charge to relax the ban, and they have spending big in Washington to push their agenda," report authors note.

"The industry push for exports is a symptom of the President's disastrous 'all-of-the-above' energy plan, that puts the interests of Big Oil over the interests of the American people," said David Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change. "Removing the crude export ban would be a disaster for the climate, just as the building the Keystone XL pipeline and any energy policy choice that incentivizes the production of more fossil fuels."

The leading proponent on Capitol Hill is Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who in early January "professed her support for easing restrictions," Reuters reports. Murkowski has received over three-quarters of a million dollars from the oil industry in recent years. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a big business lobby group, has also taken up this push.

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