WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday expressed for the first time his support for repealing the 40-year-old ban on domestic crude oil exports, a move that could breathe new life into a bill in his chamber.
"Until recently our nation's energy policy was rooted in a scarcity mindset that went back to the 1970s," Boehner, a Republican, told reporters. "But now America is experiencing an energy boom and our policy needs to follow suit."
Boehner said if Iran can return to exporting crude under the deal the United States and other world powers struck with Tehran this month over its nuclear program, the United States should not be the last developed country in the world with a self-imposed ban on oil exports.
Repealing the U.S. ban would create 1 million jobs, help bring down gasoline prices for consumers and be good for allies, Boehner said.
Supporters of lifting the ban say it could help Eastern Europe diversify beyond Russia for crude supplies. But some experts have said doing so would take time, as many European refineries have made investments to run on Russian oil and as capacity to import U.S. crude would need to be built.
U.S. oil producers hope Congress will repeal the trade restriction, which they say has led to an oil glut that threatens to choke the drilling boom. A bill introduced this year by Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, has 110 co-sponsors in the 435-member chamber.
Boehner said the House would work on wider energy legislation when it returns after the August recess. It was unclear whether the House would take up Barton's bill in the fall or perhaps later in the year.