Oil export ban – talking points, need to contact senators

From an email sent by Matt Krogh, ForestEthics
By Matt Krogh, December 4, 2015

Please consider immediately calling your Senator

and other senators listed below who are critical to the export ban issue. I’ve combined details from various sources below (Sierra Club, NRDC, others), but in short, there may be a deal to overturn the crude export ban coming through the Senate, which if successful would create huge pressure to increase oil train traffic. Many more talking points and an article about it below.

Folks are saying these are the key talking points:

– Ask: Please oppose ANY deal that includes lifting the crude oil export ban. Lifting this ban means caving to Big Oil’s desire to turn the US into an oil exporting county – It’s a move that would be bad for our climate and our communities.

– And from the partisan angle, Democrats should not be acquiescing to Republican Leadership (and Big Oil’s) top ask—it’s a terrible political signal and undermines Obama just as he is on the international stage.

When: NOW! The deal is being brokered right now, and the vote will most likely happen on Dec. 11th. Calls needed asap.

Who: All Democratic Senators should be standing up and saying that they’ll oppose any deal that lifts the export ban. These are the targets that we’re most concerned about making sure are with us:

Tier 1 Democrats/Independents:
Bennet (Colorado) Booker (New Jersey) Coons (Delaware) Donnelly (Indiana) Heinrich (New Mexico) Udall (New Mexico) Warner (Virginia) Kaine (Virginia) King (Maine) Tester (Montana)

Tier 2 Democrats:
Carper (Delaware) Reid (Nevada) Schumer (New York)

Ayotte (New Hampshire) Blunt (Missouri) Collins (Maine) Portman (Ohio) Toomey (Pennsylvania)

More talking points from the Sierra Club:

Crude Oil Export Ban Under Attack in Congress


From: Sierra Club

Re: Potential deal making on crude oil exports and the omnibus

Overview: maintaining the crude oil export ban is critical to ensure oil stays in the ground

With the clock running out for legislation this year to lift the long-standing crude oil export ban, proponents of lifting the ban, led by Senator Heitkamp (D-ND), are doubling down on their efforts to change this policy by adding a rider to the fiscal 2016 omnibus appropriations bill.

A coalition of environmental organizations and allies at the United Steelworkers, Public Citizen, and others have been working to ensure that no deal is made that lifts the ban. While momentum has been on our side for the past six months, it appears that Senator Schumer has expressed an openness to making a deal on the omnibus.

Talking points:

  • Lifting the ban would result in significant carbon pollution. This article from the Center for American Progress cites several studies that indicate lifting the ban could increase US oil extraction by as much as 3.3 million barrels per day between now and 2035, the combustion of which would result in more than 515 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year. That is the equivalent of the annual emission from 108 million passenger vehicles or 135 coal-fired power plants.
  • Lifting the ban would increase dangerous transportation of volatile crude oil. CAP estimates the oil extraction triggered by lifting the ban would fill 4,500 rail cars per day or 947 Exxon-Valdez sized tankers. This would increase the risk for even more disasters from transporting that much light, volatile crude, including massive spills and explosions that threaten our landscapes, waterways, and communities.
  • The the overwhelming number of Americans oppose lifting the ban. According to a national poll of likely 2016 voters, 69 percent, across party lines, are in opposition. Republicans do not have the votes on their side to lift the ban, so are trying to pass  it clandestinely by adding it to the must pass omnibus.
  • No member–in the Senate or House, Democrat or Republican–should support lifting this ban because there has been virtually no real discussion on this issue. There was one hearing in the Senate Banking Committee, which is not the committee of jurisdiction. Repealing a policy of this scale warrants conversation with experts.
  • The only group that stands to win is Big Oil — our climate will continue to suffer, and these exports will keep other nations from developing alternatives to fossil fuels. Instead of promoting 19th century energy sources, the United States should be leading the world in the development of clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency and be exporting those technologies.
  • Additionally, we cannot afford to jeopardize our most beautiful and critical natural places. Exporting domestically-produced crude oil will lead to increased pressure to drill for oil in sensitive ecosystems such as the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, off our coasts, and on our public lands.  CAP estimates these drilling impacts would result in the loss of an area bigger than Arches National Park every year.
  • There are also job losses associated with lifting the crude oil export ban. American refinery workers are our first and last line of defense for community safety in the face of an industry that puts profits before people. Oil refinery workers do difficult, dangerous work as bulwarks protecting our communities from devastating explosions, spills, and releases.
  • The U.S. should not be following the lead of Big Oil, but instead should be paving the way for a clean energy future for our children and grandchildren. Instead of exporting pollution and jobs to other countries, we must instead invest in clean energy and ultimately our future.
  • At a time of climate crisis and in the context of recent commitments to decarbonize our society, we should not be relaxing regulations on the fossil fuel industry. Doing so would incentivize increased production in the short term as well as potential lock-in of further hazardous oil production for years to come.

More info (from Politico):

Budget deal could lift oil export ban
By Elana Schor and Burgess Everett 12/03/2015 07:24 PM EDT
Democrats are driving a hard bargain in year-end negotiations to keep the government funded, but a key GOP priority remains on the negotiating table: lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. oil exports.
At a special caucus meeting on Thursday, Senate Democrats solidified a list of asks that Republicans may find overwhelming. But the bright side for the GOP is that Democrats seem serious about striking a bargain on lifting oil exports, despite pressure from greens and resistance from the White House. The challenge for the GOP and its industry allies remains how to craft a deal that lures liberals into backing a pro-oil position without giving away too much for conservatives to swallow.
Repealing the oil export ban is “a very important priority for” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), “and we’re hoping he’ll be respectful of our priorities,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is also throwing his weight around, hoping his young speakership’s momentum can produce a win in a long-running fight over energy policy that seemed impossible just months ago.
What Durbin called “a long list” of Democratic demands in exchange for any oil exports deal starts with extending clean-energy tax benefits that are anathema to many on the right. But those tax credits are already in line to stay alive this year as part of a separate tax package that’s close to completion, and Koch Industries is already pressing lawmakers to reject any deal that would end oil exports in exchange for helping wind and solar power.
Democratic leader Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said an end to the export ban is “obviously being pushed very hard by McConnell, and there are a couple in our caucus that agree, but the price is very high.” The American Petroleum Institute and other top oil players have lent their lobbying might to the effort, scrambling to combat a swoon in oil prices that have forced job cuts and belt-tightening in the once-booming U.S. oil patch.
“We hope Congress will still consider lifting the crude export ban on its own merits, but not by burdening society with continuing subsides and corporate welfare,” Koch lobbyist Phillip Ellender wrote to lawmakers last week. The letter is viewed with major skepticism among liberal Democrats, who privately wonder whether Republicans are willing to break with the companies run by the billionaire conservative brothers David and Charles Koch.
However, top Democratic Senate aides said that the party’s leaders and even a number of liberal lawmakers are open to a deal with Republicans, but only if they get a lot out of GOP leadership.
Democrats also want to see a restoration of the now-expired federal Land and Water Conservation Fund that House Republicans are pushing to reform.
“I don’t know if they’ll be able to get a deal on it,” said Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), chief of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who’s been open to a deal on oil exports for months. Tester said “there needs to be things like” full funding of the conservation fund to win him over.
The conservation fund’s top Senate Republican backer, Richard Burr (N.C.), said reviving it in exchange for oil exports “makes a lot of sense.”
“There are a lot of moving pieces, but the closer we get to finalizing” a year-end deal, Burr added, “the more people narrow down their wish list.”
Democrats also want assurances from Republicans that child tax credits are preserved and possibly expanded in the tax extenders bill. And they maintain that if they are going to agree to lifting the oil export ban, Republicans should expect little else in the year-end deal.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) was not impressed by the high price the minority party hopes to extract. “It sounds to me like the Democratic demands are greedy,” he said.
Cornyn’s not the only Republican asking why the party should play ball with Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) as Democrats prepare to score victories in the prospective year-end tax package.
Adding oil exports to the mix as part of a massive government funding and tax deal “strikes me as more theater than reality,” GOP energy lobbyist Michael McKenna said. “I’m not exactly sure what else Democrats want. Harry Reid is in the process of a getaway from a fairly successful armed robbery.”
Still, Democrats have more leverage than Republicans like to admit: They are likely to carry the voting load on the spending bill due byDec. 11, so they believe they have a strong hand that could trump tough talk from the GOP.
And the Democrats’ biggest environmental stalwarts sounded just as wary of an oil exports deal that they acknowledged is in the mix.
“It’s out there,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said seconds after complaining the deal would amount for a $500 billion windfall for the oil industry.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a centrist dealmaker, raised concerns about northeastern refineries that currently get U.S. crude oil at a discounted price. “The arguments that we should treat oil much the same as we treat natural gas,” which the U.S. is gearing up to begin exporting, “I think flunk,” he said.
Given that a spending bill is due within days, the fact that Democrats are keeping the oil concession on the table is being viewed on Capitol Hill as a major development among senators, one of whom said a major, “substantive” deal hinges on the provision.
Yet there’s also skepticism about what, exactly, Republicans are asking for. Is the GOP willing to shut the government down if Democrats don’t bend to McConnell and Ryan?
“People are wanting to hold the whole budget process hostage on oil exports,” lamented Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the Senate Energy Committee’s top Democrat.
Separately on Thursday, the House passed energy reform legislation that would lift the oil export ban, but it faces a certain presidential veto as a standalone measure.