House move on oil exports moot, White House says

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Congressional moves to repeal a crude oil exports ban are irrelevant because those decisions rest with the Commerce Department, the White House said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a measure to lift a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The ban was enacted in the 1970s after Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries briefly stopped exporting oil to the United States because of Washington's support for Israel.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who introduced the bill, said the U.S. oil boom needs to benefit overseas allies as much as it has the domestic economy.

"The ban on exporting crude oil imposes an estimated $200 billion - $600 billion cost to the U.S. economy, discourages crude oil production, prevents the creation of jobs, and causes higher gasoline prices for U.S. consumers," he said in a statement.

The White House said it opposes the bill because it's largely a moot point

"We are opposed to this bill, and the reason that we oppose the bill is because this is a decision that actually can be made and should be made, in our view, by the Commerce Department," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said after the bill passed. (by Daniel J. Grabber, UPI)