House GOP leaders urge Biden not to 'reward' Russia, OPEC with energy policies

An oil export ban would 'lead to higher energy prices' for Americans already struggling with inflation, the Republican leaders wrote

FIRST ON FOX: A group of House GOP leaders wrote a letter Tuesday to President Biden urging him against moving forward with a ban on oil exports.

Dozens of Republicans — led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., — argued that such a policy would hurt the U.S. economy and indirectly benefit foreign oil producers. Their letter, which was first obtained by Fox News Digital, countered recent calls from congressional Democrats asking the president to halt crude oil exports.

"We write in strong opposition to any effort by your administration to manipulate the market for crude oil and petroleum products through a ban on exports," the Republican lawmakers wrote. "Banning oil exports would destroy American jobs and lead to higher energy prices for the hardworking people of this country already suffering under record high inflation."

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They added that an export ban would decrease domestic energy production and force the U.S. to rely more heavily on Russia and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members, including Saudi Arabia. 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, speaks during a news conference on May 12. 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, speaks during a news conference on May 12.  (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"Furthermore, banning American oil exports would punish our allies in Europe and Asia who desperately seek to reduce their reliance on OPEC and Russia for oil," they stated in the letter. "The only beneficiary of a ban on American oil exports would be Russia, which would gain geopolitical leverage over our allies and additional revenue to finance the unjustified war on Ukraine."

"Imposing an oil export ban would raise the U.S. trade deficit and make us more reliant on foreign oil," the letter continued.

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in May that the president remained open to both an export ban on crude oil and petroleum products like gasoline and diesel fuel, walking back her comments from December suggesting the opposite. In 2015, Congress passed bipartisan legislation ending the longstanding oil export ban that had been in effect for 40 years.

The U.S. imported about 6.5 million barrels per day of oil (bpd) and exported 3.8 million bpd during the week ending on July 15, according to the Energy Information Administration.

On Tuesday, industry groups American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Exploration and Production Council released an analysis showing that lifting the previous crude oil export ban in 2015 lowered global gas prices by $1.93, increased U.S. economic productivity by $161 billion, boosted oil production by 1.8 billion barrels and led to the creation of about 48,000 new jobs.

"American energy leadership doesn’t just deliver significant benefits to Americans - fueling the U.S. economy and American jobs, delivering reliable energy, and helping put downward pressure on prices, but it also strengthens global security and supports our allies," API President and CEO Mike Sommers said after the analysis was published.

A separate analysis from the American Council for Capital Formation concluded a ban on exports of petroleum products would lead to a loss of $44 billion in gross domestic product and 110,000 jobs in 2023.

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Meanwhile, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., penned a letter to Biden on June 30, saying an oil export ban would "help reduce prices at the pump here at home." He added that crude oil exports serve to boost the profits of fossil fuel companies, but do not lower consumer prices.

President Biden shakes hands with White House chief of staff Ron Klain alongside Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on June 30, 2021. 

President Biden shakes hands with White House chief of staff Ron Klain alongside Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on June 30, 2021.  (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Senate Democrats have made similar arguments, urging Biden in November to order a ban on oil exports. They have also introduced legislation that would enact a ban.

"Reinstating the oil export ban would protect American consumers, rather than pumping up Big Oil’s profits," Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said last year after reintroducing the Block All New Oil Exports Act alongside Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

In their letter Tuesday, McCarthy, McMorris Rodgers and the other Republicans also blamed the Biden administration for high energy prices that have hit consumers over the last year. The average price of gasoline hit a record high of $5.02 a gallon in June before falling by about 70 cents per gallon, AAA data showed.

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"We are deeply concerned that your anti-fossil fuel agenda, including any attempt to impose a ban on American oil exports, destroys the policies that allowed the United States to become the world’s leading oil producer and provided the American people with much more affordable and reliable energy supplies," they wrote.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.