- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Most Americans support lifting restrictions on oil exports to countries that are trade partners, saying that the change would have a positive effect on the U.S. economy.

A poll conducted for the Producers of American Crude Oil Exports (PACE) released Tuesday found that 69 percent of registered voters surveyed favor allowing oil exports to “customers in countries who are trading partners,” while 25 percent oppose the policy.

Given a choice between the two policies, 65 percent supported allowing producers to sell crude oil to trading partners, while 31 percent favored only selling to U.S. customers.

The findings come amid growing interest in lifting the 40-year ban on oil exports, enacted during the Arab oil embargo in 1975, on U.S. producers hit hard by the OPEC-driven glut of crude oil on the worldwide market.

The poll, conducted by FTI Consulting, also challenges the results of a survey released a month ago by the liberal Center for American Progress, which concluded that 69 percent of voters oppose allowing “oil and gas companies to export more U.S. oil and gas to foreign countries.”

The Obama administration took a step toward softening the ban with a Commerce Department guidance issued Dec. 30 that laid out guidelines for the export of condensate, a lightly processed crude. Meanwhile, some congressional Republicans have expressed interest in lifting the restrictions.

The FTI survey also found that 76 percent of those surveyed said the “overall impact on the U.S. economy would be positive,” while 74 percent said lifting the oil export ban would create more jobs and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

Critics contend that allowing U.S. oil exports would result in higher fuel prices, but the FTI poll found that 63 percent agreed that “the increase in supply would cause prices for crude oil, gasoline and diesel fuel to decrease.”

The survey also reported that “a majority of every demographic subgroup polled support giving U.S. producers the ability to sell crude overseas,” including 69 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents, and 61 percent of Democrats.

PACE Executive Director George Baker said in a statement that there is a “growing consensus of research from think tanks, universities and government agencies that have studied the issue.”

“Each has determined that crude oil exports will grow the economy and provide broad-based consumer benefits,” Mr. Baker said. “This survey demonstrates that a significant majority of voters also believe the economy and consumers would benefit and America’s strategic position in the world would be strengthened if U.S. oil producers were permitted to sell crude oil to customers in countries who are trading partners.”

The national poll of 1,025 registered voters by both landline and cell phone was conducted Feb. 2-5 with a 3.1 percent margin of error.

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