North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp predicts that President Obama will approve legislation to end the decades-old ban on crude-oil exports—should it get past a divided and overbooked Congress this fall.
“Why not? I predict yes. What’s the worst thing? They can call me hopelessly optimistic,” Heitkamp said at a National Journal event underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday when asked if she thought that legislation could pass Congress this year and win the nod of approval from Obama himself.
Republican Sen. John Hoeven, another ardent supporter of ending the ban, agreed. “At least from what I’ve seen, the president will sign on and not veto it,” Hoeven said.
Of course for that to happen, Congress would first have to act. Momentum has appeared to grow for easing the ban on the export of crude oil on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. House Speaker John Boehner has publicly supported efforts to remove the ban, and last week a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee approved a bill that would do just that.
Opponents of lifting the ban caution that unleashing a flood of oil exports on the world market could spur heightened fossil-fuel extraction in the United States, worsening the problem of global warming as a result. And the busy congressional schedule makes finding time and a vehicle for lifting the ban difficult.