A report by the Obama administration Tuesday concluded that removing the nation’s 40-year ban on oil exports would not raise gasoline prices in the United States — and would probably even help lower them.
"Petroleum prices in the United States, including gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude-oil exports," the report said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It was completed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which does analysis for the Energy Department. A White House spokesman declined to comment to the Journal on the document.
The report said that price increases ultimately were dependent on the complex intricacies of the oil market. However, it concluded that removing export restrictions would encourage oil companies to produce more oil as they seek to capture higher overseas prices.
That would push global prices lower if foreign producers do not reduce their own output, the Journal reports.
Most U.S. retail gasoline is priced based on global benchmarks versus national ones, easing imports could lower prices here, according to the study.
In addition, with the increased use of fracking and other drilling technologies, the U.S. is no longer as dependent on foreign oil as in the past. The share of petroleum consumed in the U.S. from foreign sources, 27 percent, is at its lowest level since 1985, according to EIA data cited by the Journal.
Congressional Republicans and oil companies have long pushed for removing the export ban, with Democrats arguing that any change would make the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil.
The Republican-controlled House is expected to vote on legislation to lift the ban as early as this month, with the Senate expected to consider it next year.
"The EIA has done a good and thorough job of studying this issue from multiple perspectives, and illustrates what other independent studies have found regarding consumer prices and the economic benefits to our country," said North Dakota GOP Sen. John Hoeven.
"We will continue working to lift the crude oil export ban because it will be good for our country."
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