The U.S. will begin allowing two companies to export unrefined oil for the first time since the 1970s.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Commerce Department gave approval to Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) to export lightly-processed oil overseas that has become abundant thanks to the U.S shale oil boom in recent years. Up until now, companies could only export refined fuel, like gasoline and diesel, but needed special permission to export oil to other countries. The exports could begin as soon as August. However, it is not clear how much crude the companies will be able to ship, which makes it difficult to determine what impact this will have on oil and gas prices.
A Commerce Department spokesman said there has been "no change in policy" toward crude oil exports. However, Yahoo Finance Editor-in Chief Aaron Task thinks this is a major change to U.S. oil policy and the move could benefit other energy companies as well.
Alaska Republican Senator Liza Murkowski, who has been calling for the White House to fully lift its ban on oil exports said the decision by the Commerce Department “is a reasonable first step that reflects the new reality of our energy landscape.”
Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who is against oil exports, said it "puts America on a slippery slope to send more of our oil abroad, even at a time when the Middle East is in disarray and tensions are running high with Russia."
It’s not likely Congress will take any action to pass legislation on this contentious issue before the elections in November.
That brings us to today's poll question. Should the U.S. lift the ban on crude oil exports? Vote in our poll, or leave a comment below or on Twitter.