A new report released Tuesday by Oil Change International and Greenpeace USA found that reinstating the U.S. crude oil export ban Congress lifted in 2015 would slash global carbon emissions by up to 181 million tons of CO2-equivalent each year—a reduction comparable to shuttering dozens of coal-fired power plants.

Given the significant impact it would have in the fight against the global climate crisis, Oil Change and Greenpeace demanded that the next president and Congress commit to reviving the crude oil export ban as part of a broad and just transition away from fossil fuel production, which the Trump administration has worked to increase.

“Our elected leaders in Washington must do everything they can to limit oil development, not roll out the red carpet for Big Oil to dig up more of the very oil making our climate crisis worse every day.”
—Rebecca Concepcion Apostol, Oil Change International

The next president, the groups note, has the “legal authority to reinstate crude oil export restrictions by declaring a national climate emergency.” Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, have both committed to ending crude oil exports if elected.

“Lifting the crude oil export ban has triggered out of control expansion in U.S. oil production, primarily in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico,” Rebecca Concepcion Apostol, U.S. program director at Oil Change, said in a statement. “Expansion in oil production has sparked a crisis of local air and water pollution, and an epidemic of gas flaring and venting that is accelerating climate change in real time.”

“Our elected leaders in Washington must do everything they can to limit oil development,” said Apostol, “not roll out the red carpet for Big Oil to dig up more of the very oil making our climate crisis worse every day.”

In their 18-page report (pdf), the groups detail how U.S. crude oil production and exports exploded in the wake of Congress’ decision to lift the decades-old ban—smuggling it into an end-of-year omnibus spending bill—following intensive lobbying from the fossil fuel industry.

“Since December 2015, exports have grown over 750 percent, from roughly 400,000 [barrels per day] in 2015 to 3.4 million bpd in October 2019,” the report notes. “This is an all-time monthly high, a record currently being broken every few months.”

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