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Christmas Comes Early for Big Oil as Congress Agrees to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban

In response to news that, late last night, Republicans in Congress struck a deal to hand Big Oil and the Koch brothers their biggest legislative priority of the year and lift the longstanding ban on crude oil exports, leading environmental and landowner groups released the following statements: Policy Director Jason Kowalski: “Supporters of climate action in Congress need to realize that caving on the oil export ban is like a group of firefighters giving an early Christmas present to the local arsonists. Big Oil’s business plan is to burn the planet and lifting the ban just adds fuel to the fire. The climate movement has won some big victories this year, but this is a good reminder that, when left to their own devices, politicians will still cave to the power of ExxonMobil and their partners in crime. It’s a setback, but it won’t do much to sap this movement’s growing momentum. With a Keystone XL win and a global climate agreement under our belts, we’re more fired up than ever to take on the fossil fuel industry in the months ahead and make sure that this sort of political cowardice comes with a serious price tag.”

Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director, Oil Change International: “Just days after we all were given new hope in Paris, the empire has struck back. Congress’ response to an historic climate deal? Incentivize further oil production. It’s hard to imagine a clearer example of how far politics still has to go on climate in order to catch up with the science. The good news is that the rebellion confronting Big Oil’s empire is more powerful outside the halls of Congress than within them. If they want to expand production, they are going to have to build more infrastructure, and we will be there fighting permit approvals and blocking construction with our bodies if need be. Bring it, Big Oil.”

Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska: “Rural America needs Congress to protect land and water from risky fossil fuel projects. Lifting the export ban does the complete opposite. While we are proud of increased development of wind and solar included in the bill, we stand strong in calling out Big Oil’s stranglehold on our democracy.”

Anthony Rogers-Wright, Policy Director Environmental Action: “The ink is barely dry on the global deal made in Paris last week to address climate change, and our first act since is to give Big Oil and the Koch Brothers a huge Crude Christmas gift in return for some renewable energy stocking stuffers. In the process, we’ve signaled to the world that we don’t intend to lead the fight against humanity’s greatest challenge and shrugged off scientific consensus that tells us we must leave 80 percent of remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Big Oil and the Kochs Ho Ho Hoped for the ban to be lifted because it will result in over $500 Billion in new profits that they will undoubtedly use to buy elections and install candidates who do their bidding by expanding oil and gas operations and blocking climate legislation.”

Jacqueline Savitz, Vice President, US Oceans, Oceana: “This rush to export US crude shows that the rush to ‘drill, baby, drill’ was never really about energy independence; it was just another concession to big oil, as is the lifting of the export ban. This will increase the risk of oil spills in our oceans, continue our reliance on foreign oil and compromise our commitment to address climate change. Progress in shifting toward clean energy should not come lashed to favors for big oil that will continue our reliance on outdated dirty energy solutions.”

Kristen Miller, Conservation Director, Alaska Wilderness League: “Just days after the Paris climate agreement was reached, Congress has decided to flout the international community’s efforts to curb dangerous climate change and, instead, hand big oil an early Christmas present by lifting the crude export ban. Today’s agreement would lift the decades old crude export ban, which would promote increased production of oil and gas development. This proposal will move our nation’s energy and climate policy backward, which is especially dangerous for Alaska, a state that is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the country. Senator Murkowski (R-AK), one of the key proponents of lifting the ban, has said climate change is ‘real, we need to fight it,’ yet is endorsing increasing the impacts of climate change for the nation and her home state of Alaska, where people’s homes are sliding into the sea. It’s this type of backwards leadership that threatens the future health of the nation and the world.”

Rebecca Ponzio, campaign director for Stand Up To Oil: “Lifting the crude oil export ban puts Northwest communities at greater risk from oil train explosions and oil tanker spills. In Washington and Oregon alone we have 14 crude oil facilities and proposals – the risk from the increased oil traffic is already real – and lifting the ban dramatically intensifies that threat. And for what reason are we risking our health, safety, and environment? So oil companies can ship oil abroad, contributing to the climate crisis.”

Elijah Zarlin, Director of Climate Campaigns, CREDO: “With the world agreeing to turn away from fossil fuels in Paris, lifting the oil export ban is a desperate ploy from a desperate industry. While Big Oil may have been able to buy this political victory, it can’t buy off the grassroots resistance across this country that will be there to fight and block every upcoming infrastructure project to export Big Oil’s apocalyptic product.”

Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute: “Lifting the ban on crude oil exports would undercut all the other progress our nation may make in fighting climate change. It would unleash hundreds of millions of tons of planet-warming pollution and more fracking and dangerous drilling in America’s vulnerable communities and precious wildlife habitat. President Obama must veto this horrendous proposal or he’ll show the world that the commitments he just made in Paris are insincere.”