The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday (12/3) that could change the landscape of the currently struggling oil and gas industry. The bill, which passed 249-174 despite veto threats from the White House, would lift a four-decade ban on exporting crude oil, modernize the electric grid, and boost overall U.S. energy production, according to the Houston-based energy news source FuelFix.com.
?The days of energy scarcity are long in the rearview mirror, and passing (the energy legislation) takes an important and necessary step forward,? said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the bill?s chief sponsor.
The oil industry has suffered over the past year as resource prices continue to fall and alternative energy companies develop new and better technology. One of the main aspects of the bill would be the lifting of the oil industry’s 40-year-old exporting ban.
Those in favor of the bill believe this could help the U.S. economy by selling our excess resources to other countries at a time when there simply isn’t a demand for them at home. The U.S. currently ranks third in the world in crude oil production, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. The United States produced about 8.7 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2014.
Democrats on the other side of the aisle believe the proposed changes would be a step back as far as progress in renewable energy sources and perhaps even help bring back the oil industry to a time they’ve fought so hard against. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the senior Democrat on the energy panel, even went so far as to say the bill’s provisions:
?Favor an energy policy dominated by fossil fuels and unnecessary energy use,? Pallone said. ?It is the Republican Party?s 19th century vision for the future of U.S. energy policy in the 21st century.?
While no sane person is weeping any tears for the oil industry, the rise of shale production in the U.S. has created an interesting and unique opportunity for policy makers to take advantage of. Oil and gas industry trends may be down today, but chances are they will rebound at least slightly in the near future. The infrastructure is still in place, there are approximately 200,000 miles of oil and refined product pipelines in the U.S., and although efforts towards cleaner energy have helped, it will still be a long-time before that dirty, black substance is completely useless.