A bill that would lift a ban on most domestically produced crude oil exports cleared the House of Representatives by a 261-159 vote on Friday, enough to ensure the measure moves on to the Senate but well short of the two-thirds needed to override a promised veto by President Obama.
Twenty-six Democrats joined 235 Republicans to pass HR 702, which calls for repealing Section 103 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. That law, enacted during the Carter administration, gives the president the authority to restrict oil and natural gas exports, as well as exports of coal, petroleum products and petrochemical feedstocks.
HR 702 now moves on to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.
"As we anticipated, final support fell short of the 290 votes necessary to override President Obama's threatened veto," ClearView Energy Partners LLC said in a note Friday. "We reiterate our 15% odds for passage...largely because of ongoing White House opposition and limited incentives for Senate Democrats to cooperate."
On Wednesday, the White House, through its Office of Management and Budget, said it "strongly opposes" HR 702 and promised a veto (see Daily GPI, Oct. 8). Still, the law was championed by Republicans -- many of whom represent states with significant oil-producing shale plays such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin -- as well as oil and gas industry groups.
"Today's vote shows both parties in Congress recognize crude oil exports will create jobs for American workers, save consumers money and provide our allies with vital energy resources," said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance (WEA).
Conversely, environmental and labor groups were critical of the vote.
"Congress' unrelenting attacks on workers and our environment continued with their vote today to lift the crude oil export ban," said Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. " "Instead of exporting pollution and quality jobs offshore, Congress should focus on improving health and safety standards for workers in the U.S. oil industry and supporting efforts to address climate change."