Last week the U.S. Senate’s Energy Committee “narrowly passed a bill to lift a 40-year-old ban on the export of crude oil.”
It’s the depth of summer, so the vote didn’t get much press in New Mexico, or anywhere else. But it was a major victory for what The Washington Post called “a simple policy that would spur economic growth, lower gas prices and please international allies.”
The Wall Street Journal agrees, explaining that the majority of the nation’s refineries were “built to process heavy crude that the U.S. has long imported from the likes of Venezuela and Mexico. But most U.S. drillers are producing light, sweet crude. Refiners are slowly retooling to handle more U.S. crude, but record amounts of oil are still piling up in storage.”
New Mexico’s two senators have been conspicuously silent about where they stand on oil exports. Rep. Steve Pearce is backing a similar ban-the-ban bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The lower chamber’s measure has over 100 co-sponsors, including 13 Democrats, but Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Rep. Ben Ray Luján are not on board.
With the price of crude sagging and layoffs occurring in New Mexico’s oilfields, lifting the export ban is key to preserving, and expanding, petroleum production in the state. It’s unfortunate that the congressional delegation can’t unify behind a policy that is unambiguously good for New Mexico’s economy.