Washington, D.C. — A new column released today by the Center for American Progress argues that congressional policymakers should better analyze the potential environmental and economic impacts of changing U.S. crude oil export policy before deciding whether to allow oil companies to outsource refining capacity overseas.
The CAP analysis notes that amendments to crude oil export policy could result in higher carbon pollution, the loss of thousands of square miles of land to drill rigs, and increased shipping and transportation risks.
“A hasty decision to outsource U.S. refinery capacity might boost oil company profits, but it would also carry a high environmental price tag and create uncertainty for consumers,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. “Congress should carefully weigh the full costs and risks of outsourcing American oil, including the likelihood of higher carbon pollution, more oil trains and tankers, and the loss of an area bigger than Arches National Park every year to drill rigs.”
The CAP analysis is based on a review of three studies that were commissioned by oil export proponents—the American Petroleum Institute, the Brookings Institution, and a coalition of oil producers. Using production and drilling estimates from these studies, CAP estimates that if Congress allows U.S. oil to be outsourced to foreign refineries, the new oil produced to meet foreign demand could:
- Result in the loss of an area bigger than Arches National Park every year to drill rigs
- Have the equivalent annual greenhouse gas emissions of 135 coal fired power plants
- Fill an additional 947 Exxon Valdez-sized oil tankers every year
- Fill more than 4,500 railcars per day
The CAP authors also note that a recent study by the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, found that allowing more crude oil exports could result in $8.7 billion less investment in U.S. refining capacity over the next 10 years.
Public opinion research from January 2015 commissioned by CAP found that Americans are hesitant to abandon the pursuit of greater energy independence and are deeply skeptical of proposals to increase U.S. crude oil exports. In a national survey of more than 1,100 voters, 7 in 10 respondents said they oppose allowing oil and gas companies to export more U.S. oil and gas to foreign countries, including 61 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of independents, and 75 percent of Democrats.
Click here to read “The Environmental Impacts of Exporting More American Crude Oil” By Matt Lee-Ashley and Alison Cassady
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