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Context Florida: Tom Garcia: Grant concessions to the deserving- End ban on U.S. crude oil exports

Monday, August 31, 2015

Those of us who make it a point to stay up-to-date on foreign affairs took great interest in last month’s Iran deal aimed at stopping that volatile country from developing nuclear weapons.

One of the main concessions from the United States in the deal is to lift sanctions and allow Iran to export more goods, including that country’s most important commodity: oil. Not only does allowing Iran to sell oil to a broader global audience improve Iran’s economy, it puts American companies at a distinct disadvantage in the crude oil market. Perhaps more importantly to America, it puts our national security at risk.

The United State put a ban on its own crude oil exports in the 1970s at a time when there was a shortage of oil, although refined oil products could be sold overseas. You had to stay in line for hours to get a rationed amount of gasoline at the fuel pump amid fears of price spikes and a lack of supply. Middle Eastern countries put the United States in a position of weakness through an embargo because the oil-producing countries controlled the oil market.

Fast forward to 2015 and the United States is in the middle of an energy revolution, where the country is producing more natural gas and oil than it has in decades and has established itself as an energy powerhouse. We have enough energy that we are able to continue developing new technologies and new sources of energy to supplement traditional fossil fuels. This is good for our economy and we ought to be using that strength to our full advantage. If the U.S. crude oil export ban is lifted, the country then becomes able to sell another energy source globally, providing more of an influence on oil supply and pricing, giving us less of a reason to send our soldiers into conflict.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas last year wrote that if the crude export ban were removed, it would increase U.S. oil prices because of the introduction of new product on the global market. That would lead to increased U.S. production, which would result in the lowering of gasoline and diesel fuel costs for consumers.

But allowing countries such as Iran, Russia, Iraq, Venezuela and other oil-producing countries with unfriendly leaders to retain control of the crude oil market is a step in the wrong direction and potentially puts us at risk. Why should American companies be held back economically while a known enemy — Iran — is allowed to benefit? The United States has allies that want to buy our crude oil, yet must buy from unfriendly countries. Providing allies with our product is another national security factor.

A group I represent — Vets4Energy —   believes there is a clear nexus between energy security and national security, which is why we push policymakers to consider the military and national security with decisions they make on energy. That’s why we call for the crude oil export ban to be lifted. Let’s let American companies influence the foreign market rather than maintaining the ban, which allows our enemies to harm our economy.

The ban is more than 40 years old and was established in part because OPEC nations were trying to harm the United States through the influence of their oil. And it worked. We were panicked and our economy suffered as a result.

The United States now has the ability to flex its energy muscle to the benefit of our economy and our national security. We know Iran will soon be flooding the global market with its oil: Some experts say Iran may have 40 million barrels of oil on ships ready to be exported immediately.

Congress has been debating legislation that would lift the crude oil export ban. Lawmakers should find common sense and do what is in the best interest of our nation. It’s time to lift the ban on crude oil exports.

Cmdr. Tom Garcia is retired from the Navy and is a volunteer co-chair of Vets4Energy in Florida and lives in Lake Worth, Fla. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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