Noon: Lifting oil export ban gets broad support

Marita Noon
On Twitter @EnergyRabbit

Americans want both parties to cooperate and get something done. When the House passed H.R. 702, the bill to lift the decades old oil export ban, it offered hope that this can still happen.

Twenty-six Democrats went against the wishes of the president and voted with the Republicans — but the number should have been much higher. Getting the companion bill through the Senate will be a heavy lift as the Republicans hold a slim majority. Because of the President’s threat, a veto-proof majority will be needed in the Senate. A strong number of Democrats supporting the bill in the House gets the attention of the Democrats in the Senate.

Democrats, generally, decried the bill saying it would put billions of dollars in the pockets of “Big Oil.” In contrast, understanding that successful businesses mean a strong economy and employment, the Republicans addressed the jobs that have been lost in the oil field and touted how H.R. 702 will help.

Bringing these two sides together is difficult — especially given the divergent views within each party.

The split in the GOP, as has been on display over the Speaker replacement, is basically between the new legislators — who have been elected since 2010 and who have never had to govern in a world where the Republicans haven’t been in the majority in the House — and the others. Their voters sent them to Washington to stand strong and don’t want them to compromise. Those who have been there longer better understand give and take.

Marita Noon

The Democrat split can be simply explained with two words: blue and green. On the blue team are those whose districts contain a high ratio of “blue-collar workers,” who have been hard hit by the bad economy. These voters care about jobs. The greens are made up of members whose votes mirror the views of the environmental movement.

As I’ve previously addressed, the greens indicate that they could vote for lifting the export ban, but, as a part of the negotiating process, they want more green/renewable energy subsidies — something that is anathema to the Republicans who, typically, want less government spending.

The Maritime Security Program was married with H.R. 702 to bring Democrats on board while not killing the bill for Republicans. Congressman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the program is vital to national defense and is something all conservatives should care about. Its insertion was a win/win as it supports national security and appeals to the “blue” Democrats from districts where shipping jobs are important.

Unfortunately, this point of negotiation got labeled a “sweetener” for the shipping industry. Conservatives launched a campaign to get the program stripped from the bill —which, due to the split in the party, likely resulted in fewer Democrats supporting the bill. The amendment didn’t survive.

The Republican split made it harder to bring along more support from the Democrat members. As the lift-the-ban bill moves to the Senate, hopefully its supporters there will learn from the House and come together in a unified way — able to end the bickering by negotiating and comprising in a mutually palatable way to reach a bipartisan, veto-proof majority in the Senate.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.