The Obsolete Crude Oil Export Ban

In the 1970s, during the Arab oil embargo, gasoline prices soared in the United States. Shortages created long lines of cars at the few gas stations that had fuel. In response, the U.S. began a series of policies that focused on its limited supply and high demand for oil. Policies included efforts to build up the oil reserves, reduction of oil imports and stabilization of the fuel prices. However, by the 1980s and 90s, oil imports to the U.S. were the highest ever and gas prices remained very volatile.

One particular policy was the Energy Policy and Conservation Act by President Ford in 1975. The act established a Strategic Petroleum Reserve, supporting an emergency storage of oil up to 727 million barrels and would last close to 160 days at a maximum withdrawal of 4.4 million barrels a day. The act also permitted the President to restrict exports of energy resources, such as crude oil:

Permits the President to restrict exports of coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and supplies of materials or equipment for exploration, production, refining, or transportation of energy supplies. Authorizes the President to exempt crude oil and natural gas exports from such restriction where he deems such exemption to be in the national interest, such as in recognition of the historic trading relations with Mexico and Canada.

The recent hydraulic fracturing boom, along with the discovery of vast amounts of oil deposits, has changed our domestic energy situation. For the first time since the 1960s, the United States is close to becoming energy independent. Therefore, many of the current policies of the 1970s are now obsolete.

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