The 40-year old ban on crude oil exports from the United States may be lifted. This follows the matter becoming one of the conditions to approve the government’s spending bill by the Republicans. However, talks are still on and no conclusion has been reached. If agreed by Congress, the repeal of ban on crude oil exports would mark a significant shift in the US oil policy.

A report by CNBC quoted a Senate aide, who said the ban was “very likely” to go in the course of the so-called “omnibus” spending bill. The reason is-- the termination of the ban on crude exports will be traded for extensions in wind and solar tax credits sought by Democrats with enhanced funding for parks from the oil revenues. The funding bill has a deadline until Wednesday.

The Congress is exploring all options to tide over the stalemate and extend the expiring tax provisions to assist the government with spending plans through Sept. 30, 2016, before the current funding authority’s tenure expires on Dec. 16.

Thus lawmakers are positively considering the option of extending solar and wind tax credits for five years as a trade off primarily meant for addressing the domestic energy shortages.

Besides crude exports, other controversial policy provisions attached to the US$1.15 trillion (AU$1.53 trillion) spending measure negotiations for a Democratic proposal to lift the ban on medical research into gun violence and the demand by Republicans to tighten screening of Syrian refugees in the United States.

President Barack Obama is opposed to any legislation that will lift the ban on crude exports and wanted Congress to support the cause of green sources of energy, adds a Reuters report.

Pressure from Republicans

However, Republicans are adamant that the ban must go and are demanding revived exports of crude are essential to sustain a major boom in US oil production and support US allies with an alternative supply source vis a vis Russian and OPEC oil.

“We're guardedly optimistic that this will be in fact part of the deal that gets done,” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, a major new oil producing state.

“We do not have a final agreement on the omnibus or tax extenders,” said Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

Areas of disagreement

In the crude exports matter, main differences persist on the compensatory renewable-energy tax credits sought by Democrats, reports Bloomberg. Many oil producers including ConocoPhillips, Hess Corp. and Continental Resources Inc are seeing the timing as appropriate as the industry is cutting jobs to deal with global glut in crude oil demand that is down to the lowest ever prices in seven years.

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