Baku, December 19 AZERTAC
The U.S. Congress voted on Friday to repeal the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil in an energy policy shift sought by Republicans as part of a bipartisan deal that also provided unprecedented tax incentives for wind and solar power.
The Senate, on a 65-33 vote, approved lifting the ban and providing five-year extensions of tax breaks to boost renewable energy development as part of a $1.8 trillion government spending and tax relief bill that President Barack Obama quickly signed into law.
Congress, concerned about U.S. dependence on imported oil, imposed the crude oil export ban after the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s that sent gasoline prices soaring and contributed to runaway inflation. Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed the embargo following the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Drillers said continuing the ban would choke a boom in shale oil production since 2008 particularly in North Dakota and Texas that has pushed domestic oil prices down from more than $100 a barrel to below $40.
Tom O’Malley, executive chairman of refiner PBF Energy , said lifting the ban would lead at least one East Coast refinery to shut down, adding that his refineries in New Jersey and Delaware are less exposed.
"Now that we have leveled the playing field, the United States finally has an opportunity to compete and realize our nation's full potential as a global energy superpower,” said George Baker, head of Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, a group that formed last year to press lawmakers to open the trade.