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November 5, 2015 1:12 pm

The US Should Remove Export Oil Ban to Counter Putin and Iran

avatar by Kevin Cramer

Email a copy of "The US Should Remove Export Oil Ban to Counter Putin and Iran" to a friend
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Much has been said and written by me and other supporters of lifting the crude export ban, focused mainly on how lifting the ban will create jobs and stimulate economic growth across the country. While each of those benefits is reason alone to repeal the ban, little is known about how the ban came into existence in the 1970s as well as its profound effect on the geo-political structure of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it:” A timeless lesson that applies to the House of Representatives’ strong bipartisan vote to pass H.R. 702, lifting the current US oil export ban.

The vote comes 42 years after the Yom Kippur War, which ushered in long lines at gas stations as a result of OPEC’s embargo against the US in retaliation for supporting Israel as they were fighting for their very existence against their Arab neighbors.

In October 1973, Syria and Egypt led an Arab coalition against the Jewish state. They launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.  While the US backed Israel with military aid, the Soviet Union supported the Arab states. Echoing that support today is Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict backed by Iran.Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict appears to be just the first step of a permanent and growing military presence in the Middle East. The reemergence of the Russian Bear on the world stage makes it imperative for the United States to support our allies, maintain secure shipping lanes and continue being a beacon of democracy throughout the world.The ability to export crude oil on the world market allows the United States to use the peaceful tools of energy and economics rather than the lethal weapons of war to confront Russia and Iran, while standing firm with our allies, especially Israel, as it deals with a Syrian civil war and ISIS fighters on its border.

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It’s time to send Russia a message.

Russia played a key role in the eleventh hour of this year’s nuclear agreement lifting sanctions against Iran. Russia is exporting 54 percent of the oil into the European market where there is monopoly pricing. With Russia running out of money, it has emboldened an ally in Iran, and it is no secret they both use energy, especially oil, as a political weapon.  The 1979 peace treaty with Egypt put Israel’s energy dependence in the hands of foreign oil, and Israel committed itself to oil dependence based on U.S. guarantees. The Obama administration allowed the State Department’s guarantee with Israel to lapse during negotiations with Iran this year.

Polls show 78 percent of the American public are outraged over Obama’s Iran deal; 75 percent are unaware that the US guarantees the delivery of oil to Israel in the event of a crisis; and 73 percent of Americans are unaware that Israel receives the majority of its oil from countries like Russia and other former Soviet states. It is clear that exporting US oil for sale to our allies and friends like the Jewish State will be a tool for democracy and a blow to the enemies of the West.

Lifting the ban on exporting American oil assures a secure supply for Israel and other European allies. Israel’s refineries are able to handle our light and tight sweet crude oil, and in my first trip to Israel as a congressman, I carried a vial of Bakken crude to the prime minister. This was the source of freedom versus arms.

Trading oil on the open free markets is a tool of peace and liberty. Black gold in the wrong hands is a tool of tyranny. The best way to hold Putin and Iran in check is with the peaceful tools of energy development — not the weapons of war.

We cannot afford to wait much longer, which is why I am co-sponsoring an amendment to the Highway Transportation Funding bill, which will be voted on in the House later this week.  This crucial piece of legislation will give us the best chance to finally repeal the crude export oil ban.

Now is the time for Americans to consider the geopolitical and national security reasons for lifting the US oil export ban. Even in politics, there are certain things we can all agree upon, regardless of the letter next to our name on a ballot.

Kevin Cramer has been North Dakota’s at-large representative since 2013. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

This article was originally published by The Hill. 

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