Senators Markey and Boxer call for firm oil and gas export negotiations with EU
U.S. senators Edward J. Markey and Barbara Boxer urged the U.S. negotiators to stand firm in the TTIP negotiations with the EU.
Senators called on U.S. negotiators to resist calls from the Europeans to include language intended to undermine U.S. laws and regulations related to exports of American crude oil and natural gas resources during the negotiations between the United States and European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Earlier this year, documents surfaced that the EU was secretly seeking “a legally binding commitment in TTIP guaranteeing the export of [U.S.] crude oil and gas resources by transforming any mandatory and non-automatic export licensing procedure into a process by which licenses for exports to the EU are granted automatically and expeditiously.”
Senators Markey and Boxer challenged Ambassador Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, to reject this overture to the United States by the EU.
“An agreement that requires automatic and unrestricted approval of U.S. oil and gas exports to the EU has the potential to harm American consumers, our national security, and our environment,” write the Senators to Ambassador Froman. “We request that you clearly and unambiguously oppose any EU efforts to include a legally binding commitment in TTIP that would run contrary to existing U.S. laws by guaranteeing the export of U.S. crude oil and natural gas resources through changes to U.S. export licensing procedures.”
In the letter, the Senators argue that an agreement that requires automatic and unrestricted approval of U.S. oil and gas exports to the EU conflicts with current U.S. law, and has the potential to harm American consumers, our national security, and our environment.
Since 1975, oil and natural gas exports have been carefully limited in order to reduce reliance on foreign energy supplies and ensure American businesses and consumers are adequately supplied. Recent increases in U.S. oil and gas production has spurred some to call for changes to that policy, even as America continued to import 7.7 million barrels of oil per day in 2013, much of it from unstable regions of the world.
Over the last four years, the primary U.S. benchmark crude oil type—West Texas Intermediate—has traded at a substantial discount to Brent crude, the primary European and world benchmark crude. The U.S. crude oil discount is currently $3.50 per barrel but that discount has reached nearly $30 per barrel in recent years, which has translated into lower fuel prices for Americans in some regions of the country.
America’s price edge on natural gas is even more dramatic. Natural gas prices in Europe, Asia, and South America are up to three or four times higher than in the United States. This has helped to increase American manufacturing competitiveness and fuel the growth of 700,000 manufacturing jobs over the last four years.
Press Release, October 2, 2014; Image: markey.senate.gov