In the News: Support to Lift the Ban on Exporting Oil

Comments from Members of Congress

“Without her, ‘I don’t know that it would have happened,’ said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, whose own repeal legislation passed the House in October. ‘She represented her constituencies — the state of North Dakota, the heart of the Bakken — and took a lot of heat in her caucus. But she stood her ground.’” 
Bloomberg Government, 12/18/15


“Heitkamp was ‘just dogged in her efforts to help educate her party,’ [U.S. Senator Lisa] Murkowski said in an interview. ‘And she was able to.’” 
Bloomberg Government, 12/18/2015


U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) on the floor of the U.S. Senate, “ I want to recognize the many, many, many hours that Senator Heitkamp spent in meetings of every complexion under the sun. From educating our colleagues who don’t have oil and gas producing basins like we do, on the intricacies of what this means for price pressures, what does this mean for consumers, are the things that you intuitively might thing not what you would see in the actual marketplace, meeting after meeting with renewable energy associations — in the solar field, in the wind field, and with colleagues on both sides of the aisle — people like the presiding officer, like our Energy Committee Chairperson Senator Murkowski of Alaska. I want to thank you for all of that work and it’s really been a pleasure to work with you in this effort.” Speech on Floor of U.S. Senate, 12/17/2015


U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) during U.S. Senate Committee hearing, “I would like, at this point, to commend Senator Heitkamp for her tireless efforts of many months to introduce and advance this legislation. The case for lifting the ban on exporting crude oil is strong and continues to grow stronger each day.” 
Opening Remarks at U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, House and Urban Affairs hearing, 10/1/2015

Comments from Industry Leaders

“‘Our goal all along was to make sure the oil-export ban did not turn into something like Keystone,’ said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, whom Ryan Lance, chief executive of oil giant ConocoPhillips, described as ‘our entry into the Democratic side of the Senate.’” 
Wall Street Journal, 12/20/2015


“IPAA [Independent Petroleum Association of America] thanks Senators on both sides of the aisle for their determination on U.S. crude oil exports. We want to especially thank Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), authors of standalone legislation designed to lift the oil export ban, for their strong, bipartisan leadership on this critical issue for America’s independent producers.”
Statement from Independent Petroleum Association of America President and CEO Barry Russell, 1/28/2016

Articles and Editorials

“For months, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, formed a quiet, persistent alliance as they sought to convince their colleagues that it was time to end a more than 40-year ban on crude oil exports.

“They turned the Senate floor into a symposium on the history of Nixon-era oil price controls. They offered up lectures on modern-day energy economics. They stressed the potential for using crude oil exports to increase American soft power — by limiting the reliance of American allies on oil-producing rivals like Iran and Russia…

“…In the end, it seems, their efforts were an exemplar in soft-power legislating. After months of cajoling, Congress seems to be on the verge of lifting the crude oil export ban as part of a giant year-end spending and tax deal.” 
New York Times, 12/11/2015


“Now and then, the hype coming out of Washington PR machines is warranted.

“This is one of those times. The North Dakota congressional delegation — especially Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — is crowing about the new bipartisan agreement that’s likely to lift America’s 40-year-old ban on exporting oil.

“But the lifting of the ban would be, in fact, a big deal for North Dakota. So the delegation has a right to crow — especially Heitkamp, whose advocacy was critical to convincing other Democrats to lift the ban, and whose civil but passionate campaigning on the issue caught the favorable attention of the national press.” 
Grand Forks Herald Editorial, 12/16/2015


“Allowing oil exports is a key component of a deal lawmakers are negotiating as part of spending and tax measures Congress is aiming to pass by Wednesday. People familiar with the tentative deal cautioned that nothing was final yet and that its final shape could change.

“But supporters of ending the ban see grounds for hope. ‘We’re guardedly optimistic that this will be in fact part of the deal that gets done,’ Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) said in an interview Friday…

“Still, Ms. Heitkamp, who was one of the earliest and most vocal congressional supporters of lifting the ban, cautioned, ‘Nothing is certain in this town until the president signs it.’” 
 Wall Street Journal, 12/16/2015


“Politicians who have been pushing to lift the ban for more than a year say the fall in gasoline prices across virtually all congressional districts provided crucial leeway for lawmakers to support this major change in energy policy.

“‘Low oil prices gave people the breathing space to not feel like we’re doing this at a time when gasoline prices are bumping around four dollars,’ said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), who has been one of the most vocal supporters of lifting the ban, which Congress first put in place in the aftermath of the 1973 Arab oil embargo. ‘It would have been a lot harder. Now is better than later.’” Wall Street Journal, 12/16/2015


“So when Heitkamp set out to be a Democratic voice in support of rolling back the decades-old prohibition on exporting crude, she knew that a different approach would be needed to get a bill to President Barack Obama’s desk that he or his autopen would sign into law.

“Heitkamp’s office said she began discussing the proposal with Democratic senators back in the fall of 2014, also guest-hosting CNBC’s morning program ‘Squawk Box’ to discuss oil exports with Hess Corporation CEO John Hess. Over the ensuing year, Heitkamp became something of a fixture on business television and at panel discussions and other events pushing the overturn of the oil export ban, despite its unpopularity among many Democrats.

“‘Even if you could get it through Congress, which I doubted, you were going to get a veto, and you weren’t going to get it without a package,’ Heitkamp said. ‘That’s why I knew that an effort to put it on as a standalone on transportation wouldn’t be successful.’” 
Roll Call, 12/17/2015


“However, lifting the 40-year-old ban will have long-term implications for North Dakota by retaining investments in domestic oil drilling, she [Heitkamp] said.

“‘It keeps investment in domestic drilling on the planning board,’ Heitkamp said…

Heitkamp, who worked with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to build bipartisan support for lifting the ban, said getting enough Democrats on board required balancing it with renewable energy tax credits and the potential for conservation programs…

“‘We always knew that if both sides were willing to negotiate we could get this done,’ Heitkamp said.” 
Prairie Business Magazine, 12/17/2015


“As recently as just a few months ago, people were still telling Senator Heidi Heitkamp that lifting the oil export ban couldn’t be done. Friday afternoon, with all signs pointing to a White House signature on a bill that does just that, Heitkamp was elated, albeit in a subdued way.

“‘We got it done,’ she said. ‘We never doubted it, but a whole lot of people did. This is major.’

“…While many in Republican circles supported lifting the ban, selling it to the Democrat side was the tough part. And the part Heitkamp took on, senator by senator.

“‘We started out basically believing we should lead with the facts,’ Heitkamp said. ‘Most people, even in a place like North Dakota, which is the second largest producer of crude oil, are not familiar with this age-old policy. So we began the process with just educating people.’”
Williston Herald, 12/19/2015


“Supporters of lifting the export ban, including oil-state Democrats, cajoled potential liberal opponents, persuading them the policy change could work in their favor. They met repeatedly with skeptical Democrats, stressing that oil prices had fallen through the floor in part due to a supply glut, so ending the ban would likely not make them soar.

“‘It was critical to in the front end spend time with members explaining what this is,’ Ms. Heitkamp said.” 
Wall Street Journal, 12/20/2015


“‘Success breeds success,’ Heitkamp told the Minot Daily News. ‘This is what can happen when the people raise an issue.’

Heitkamp’s reference was to the successful elimination of the ban on exporting crude oil from the U.S., which came about as a result of negotiations horse trading, some have said between Democrats and Republicans in order to pass a spending bill and stave off another government shutdown. Republicans have long supported eliminating the ban to move toward energy independence and a greater stake in the global oil market; Democrats typically opposed the measure.

“‘The problem was never getting Republican support it was making the effort truly a bipartisan one,’ Heitkamp said.” 
Minot Daily News, 12/26/2015


“North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp played a key role in making sure this [lifting the ban to export oil] happened, working the folks on her side of the aisle alongside Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski to assure bipartisan support.”
Dickinson Press Editorial, 12/29/2015


“For the past year, the pro-oil Democrat from the state home to the Bakken Shale has worked alongside Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to gin up support for lifting the export ban. It’s a simple enough prospect among Republicans but was a non-starter for most Democrats. Heitkamp is now on the cusp of achieving her goal, with a deal in place that swaps ending the ban for an extension in solar and wind tax credits and some other environmental measures.” 
Bloomberg Government, 12/18/2015


“The change in oil export rules is a triumph for the American Petroleum Institute, shale oil producers in states like Texas and North Dakota, free trade economists from both parties, and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), whose home state producers — battered by the recent plunge in oil prices — will be able to get somewhat higher prices abroad.” 
Washington Post, 12/16/2015