Removing U.S. crude oil export ban could reduce consumer fuel prices and benefit the U.S. economy, according to a government report released Monday.
As U.S. energy production has boomed, allowing more exports of U.S. oil would increase world supplies of crude oil, which is expected to reduce international prices and subsequently lower consumer fuel prices, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report.
The report comes as U.S. oil producers and Republican lawmakers lobbied to lift the nearly four-decade ban on U.S. crude oil exports amid increasing crude oil production and decreasing crude oil imports.
The report also said that removing crude oil exports ban could boost U.S. crude oil production, thus encourage investment in oil production, create jobs, reduce U.S. trade deficit, and increase the size of the economy.
But the report also found additional crude oil production may pose risks to the quality and quantity of surface groundwater sources; increase greenhouse gas and other emissions; and increase the risks of spills from crude oil transportation.
U.S. monthly crude oil production increased by almost 68 percent from 2008 through April 2014, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Meanwhile, net crude oil imports declined from a peak of about 60 percent of consumption in 2005 to about 30 percent in the first 5 months of 2014.
Opponents of lifting the ban argued that more crude exports would raise gas prices and hurt U.S. consumers. But export advocates noted that the U.S. prices for gasoline, diesel and other consumer fuels usually follow international prices and more crude exports would be beneficial to consumers.