NEW YORK (Reuters) -The Biden administration is not considering a ban on U.S. oil exports to try to lower gasoline prices, a source familiar with the Biden administration’s thinking said on Thursday.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers earlier in the day urged U.S. President Joe Biden in a letter not to halt exports. The eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives said a crude export ban would not help lower gasoline costs as the White House hopes, but instead likely raise prices further by restricting global oil supply and discouraging domestic production, according to the letter seen by Reuters.
The Biden administration has been grappling with rising energy costs, including retail gasoline prices, which at one point in November were 60% higher than a year earlier. Prices have retreated since then and are down 10% since Nov. 1.
The White House said last month it would release 50 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserves to lower energy prices and has pressed the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to supply more oil to the world.
The letter said the administration should resolve higher prices by removing policy barriers that inhibit U.S. production.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters on Thursday that oil exports is “not an issue we are currently focused on.”
The administration has previously said it would consider other tools to manage higher energy prices, including a potential export ban.
The national price of gasoline is around $3.34 per gallon, up from $2.16 per gallon a year ago, according to data from the American Automobile Association. Prices peaked in early November at $3.42, according to AAA data.
Congress voted in 2015 to repeal a 40-year ban on exporting U.S. crude oil. Since that year, crude exports have skyrocketed nearly 600% to 3.2 million barrels per day in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Biden has authority under the legislation to declare an emergency and limit or stop oil exports for up to a year.
The letter on Thursday follows another letter from Democratic House members last month, which urged Biden to reinstate – at least temporarily – the export ban.
(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly, Jarrett Renshaw and Nandita Bose; editing by Diane Craft, Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)