The ban on US crude oil exports is “a sanction on itself”, US senator Lisa Murkowski told delegates at the opening day of CERAWeek.
The senior senator for Alaska, who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said it was wrong to negotiate the lifting of sanctions on Iranian oil while maintaining the ban on US exports.
The last time US Congress passed a major energy bill was in 2007, she said, since when there had been a different mindset about energy. Asked why lawmakers had not lifted the ban, Murkowski explained: “We are dealing with a fear factor we have to acknowledge.” Americans would not accept crude oil being sent for export if it meant a higher price to fill their cars.
The senator described her own state as “paralysed” by the drop in oil price. Oil is effectively the state’s economy, she said. Production is down, the Trans-Alaska pipeline is less than half full, and the legislature has to make USD3 billion in savings. “We have a fairer tax structure now but we desperately want Washington to lift the ban.” Murkowski added that Alaskans have stopped believing they can do the tough stuff.
However, she said it was too early to talk about ending the Jones Act, saying the legislation was “fair and legitimate”.