The Efficiency Factor. But if the U.S. is still several years from becoming a net oil exporter, why remove export restrictions now? The answer is economic efficiency. Crude oil must be transported to refineries, and some refineries are better suited to refining particular types of crude. It may be more efficient and less expensive to export crude oil drilled in the northeast to Europe and import crude from Mexico than it would be to require the northeast oil to be shipped to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Imposing artificial barriers, like trade restrictions, creates higher prices and economic inefficiency, and everyone pays more.
Increases Energy Security. Imagine a world in which we didn’t have to worry about whether oil-producers like Iran or Venezuela or Saudi Arabia were upset about U.S. foreign policy decisions. And what if our allies had a place they could turn to for oil if Russia cut off their oil or natural gas supplies.
For 40 years U.S. foreign policy has been constrained by the need to make nice with certain major oil-producing countries — many of which do not like us very much. That day could be coming to an end, but only if we have the ability to export oil.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.