Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Thursday that her agency is grappling with its approach to the nation's decades-old ban on most crude-oil exports at a time when "technology is advancing faster than the existing regulations."
"I think it's a mistake to think there isn't serious conversation going on within the administration about what we should do and figure out the right policy," she said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in response to a question about both oil and natural-gas exports, although her agency only regulates the former.
Pritzker's remarks arrive roughly a week after revelations that the Commerce Deparment quietly gave two companies a green light to export ultralight, minimally processed crude oil known as condensate, ruling that it's a "petroleum product" and not subject to the ban.
Some analysts see the decisions as a crack in the export ban that dates back to the oil shocks of the 1970s, despite Obama administration claims that no policy shift has occurred.
"We do not have a change in policy despite what you read in the newspaper," Pritzker said at the festival. (The Atlantic, a lead sponsor, is owned by National Journal parent company Atlantic Media.)
However, she acknowledged that the nation's surging production of light oil from shale formations is forcing a new look at the topic.