October 19, 2005

Wyden Fights to Halt Exports of Oil Drilled in Arctic Refuge

Energy Committee narrowly rejects measure that could have preventedmarket manipulation, boosted U.S. energy independence

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today fought to ban exports of oil produced in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge by offering an amendment to Budget Reconciliation legislation considered by the Senate Energy Committee. The Committee today narrowly rejected by a vote of 9-13 the chance to stop market manipulation and price increases that oil companies have called a "no-brainer." In January 2001, The Oregonian of Portland reported that BP-Amoco systematically increased oil prices for consumers along the West Coast while exporting Alaskan crude oil to Asia. The Budget Reconciliation measure, approved earlier this year, authorized Refuge drilling, but failed to include a ban on exports of oil drilled in the U.S, and instead, directs the Secretary of Interior to receive fair market value for Refuge oil drilling. In the face of the weakened U.S. dollar abroad, it is a virtual certainty that Arctic oil would be sold outside the United States, instead of being sold and used here at home. Wyden's amendment today sought to protect American energy consumers from continued market manipulation and continued dependence on foreign sources of energy. "Exporting Arctic oil overseas does not reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil one drop," said Wyden. "In failing to adopt this measure today, the Committee has missed an important opportunity to boost American energy security and head off price manipulations, which is particularly troubling in light of the sky-high energy prices consumers are facing now." In contrast to the Senate Energy Committee's vote today, the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year approved the identical provision offered by Wyden today. Wyden voted against the final version of the Energy Bill, arguing it did not do enough to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources. Wyden's amendment today was another move toward increasing American energy independence and to boost American energy security.