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Lifting of 40-year oil ban heads to Senate

Oil industry officials hailed yesterday’s U.S. House of Representatives vote to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude exports as an opportunity to save consumers money and create new jobs, but environmentalists said it would worsen global warming and heighten the risk of harmful spills.

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard said the 261-159 vote on the measure, which now heads to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain, “starts us down the path to a new era of energy security, saving consumers billions and creating jobs across the country.”

“American producers would be able to compete on a level playing field with countries like Iran and Russia, providing security to our allies and accelerating the energy revolution that has revitalized our economy,” Gerard said in a statement. “… As the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported, lifting the ban could increase the value of U.S. crude and incentivize domestic production, which puts downward pressure on global oil prices and the prices that consumers pay for fuel.”

Related: House OKs lifting 40-year-old US ban on oil exports

But environmentalists said allowing U.S. crude oil to be shipped overseas could increase drilling by as much as 3.3 million gallons per day over the next 20 years, increasing global warming pollution by 22 million metric tons per year — the equivalent of five coal plants — and shipping the extra oil would heighten the threat of pipeline and oil train accidents.

“To avoid more global warming impacts like the floods, drought and intense storms already devastating parts of our country, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to 100 percent pollution-free energy,” Environment Massachusetts state director Ben Hellerstein said in a statement. “Lifting the crude oil export ban would take us in the wrong direction. We’re counting on the president and senators (Elizabeth) Warren and (Edward) Markey to stand up to Big Oil by keeping the ban in place and advancing a clean energy future.”

All nine members of the Massachusetts House delegation voted against lifting the ban. And earlier this week, the White House said the president would veto the bill if it cleared the Senate.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said lifting the export ban would lower prices at the pump, create jobs and boost the economy.

“In my view, America’s energy boom has the potential to reset the economic foundation of our economy and improve our standing around the world,” Boehner said.

This article was written by Marie Szaniszlo from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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