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Brock: Exporting American oil makes too much sense

The new energy debate is whether or not the United States should allow the export of American crude oil. The export of American oil, except to Canada, has been restricted since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil boycott of the 1970s.

Back then, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members were looking for ways to hit back at supporters of Israel. So they launched an embargo that blocked oil deliveries to the U.S. Oil prices quadrupled as did the price of gas if you could even find it. Finding enough gas to get to work was a daily struggle.

There are many who fear exporting oil will drive up the price of gas at the pump and could once again create shortages. I can understand their fears and remember waiting in line to buy my allotted 10 gallons of gas at the cost of what 40 gallons had been me a year earlier.

I’m old enough to remember before the OPEC boycott gas wars when service stations competed for customer’s business by lowering their price every time a competitor lowered theirs.

I remember President Richard Nixon pledging during the boycott that our nation would be energy independent in a decade and never be held hostage after that. That decade turned in to four decades as our country is finally on the cusp of producing more than enough oil to realize his goal.

Ironically, while there has been a ban on the export on of American crude oil the last 40 years, there has never been a ban on the export of gas and there have been exports of foreign oil that have made it to American storage tanks that were exported recently.

I think part of the reason it has taken so long for our nation to obtain energy independence is due in large part to regulations put on the industry. I’m an unapologetic capitalist and think where there is a need, American greed — if you will — will find a solution to any problem if government gets out of the way. Much like agriculture exports lifting the ban on American oil would create a larger market that would ignite even more research and development of our energy industry. Producing enough energy to export would help reduce the trade deficit and improve our economy by creating high-paying jobs. Creating more supply on the world market could only drive down the price and should lower the cost at the pump.

The best thing about becoming energy independent is it would eliminate the need to use American soldiers to protect other countries’ oil industries ever again, and that alone should be enough to remove any doubt for the export of American oil.

Still, much like the Keystone XL pipeline, allowing the export of American oil probably makes too much sense and won’t happen anytime soon.

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press. Email him at