Senate energy panel votes to lift oil export ban


The U.S. Senate Energy Committee on Thursday narrowly passed a bill to lift a 40-year-old ban on the export of crude oil, but the measure faces an uphill battle in getting passed by the full Senate.

The bill to allow the United States to export oil and boost state revenue-sharing for offshore oil and gas drilling passed along party lines by a vote of 12-10.

It was the second significant step in two days for advocates of lifting the ban: Republican House Speaker John Boehner announced his support on Wednesday for repealing the law.

But Congressional Democrats remain reluctant to reverse the ban, citing a fear it would lead to higher gas prices. Democratic support is seen as crucial to getting President Barack Obama to sign any legislation permitting crude exports.

Senate Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski, a Republican senator from Alaska, has been a long-time advocate for lifting the ban, which she said was outdated due to the U.S. drilling boom that has propelled the country to vie with Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer. (by TIMOTHY GARDNER AND VALERIE VOLCOVICI, Reuters)