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Editor:

The U.S. crude oil export ban has been in place for over four decades. While there have always been those in Congress in favor of revisiting this outdated law from the 1970s, only recently has there been widespread support for its repeal. The time is ripe for Congress to finally take definitive action to lift the ban.

We in New Mexico have long understood the importance of oil and natural gas production. Oil and gas revenues make up over 31 percent of our state's general fund and the industry provides jobs to over 69,000 people. The best way to protect these jobs and support increased growth is to end the oil export ban and let producers here in New Mexico and across the country compete on the global market.

The export ban was initially put in place during the 1970s Arab oil embargo. Oil shortages and long lines at gas stations prompted fears of the U.S. becoming increasingly dependent on oil imports and many believed that we should begin stockpiling our own oil resources. But today, those fears are no longer valid. New technologies that have allowed us to develop our shale resources have transformed our energy landscape and have made the U.S. the leading oil producer in the world. The U.S. has the potential to be a major world energy leader — we just need to step up and accept the role.

The current oil export ban has left the U.S. as the only developed country to ban the sale of its oil to other countries. This is especially absurd since the U.S. imports and exports all types of goods and commodities, including refined gasoline. There is absolutely no reason why crude oil should be treated any differently.

Most importantly, there is solid research that points to the host of economic benefits of lifting the ban. Members from both sides of the aisle all agree that lifting the U.S. export ban is good for our country. Multiple studies have shown it will increase domestic energy production, create up to a million jobs down the supply-chain, and boost economic activity.

The mounting evidence in support of U.S. crude oil exports is hard to ignore, which is one of the reasons why there is finally significant movement on this issue back on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Multiple hearings have been held over the past few months — with committees ranging from Agriculture, to Small Business, to Foreign Affairs examining the issue. Most significantly, before adjourning for August recess, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed legislation to lift the ban. That same week, House Speaker John Boehner threw his support behind crude oil exports. House leadership has signaled that a bill to end the ban could be considered by the full House of Representatives this fall.

Momentum is growing to finally put an end to the outdated and unnecessary oil export ban. Let's all help get it over the finish line by sending a strong message to our senators, representatives and President Obama that action is needed now to unlock our energy and grow our economy.

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