A Crude Reversal: The Political Economy of the United States Crude Oil Export Policy
Forthcoming in Energy Research & Social Science (2017)
16 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 23, 2016
Why did the United States (US) lift its forty-year old oil export ban in 2015? Press coverage has offered various answers, such as the decline in crude oil prices and the rise of US tight oil production. Yet, these explanations are incomplete. Prices have declined in the past and, in spite of the shale revolution, the US remains a net oil importer. Here, we argue that the repeal of the ban was driven by the confluence of multiple streams in the policy process: a policy problem created by the spread between US and international crude prices, a policy solution advocated by a constituency with growing voice and power, and a window of opportunity offered by falling international oil prices and the budget deal in late 2015. The analysis is a reminder that the policy process behind ostensibly rational energy policies is often less coherent than might be assumed.
Keywords: crude oil exports, United States (US), shale and tight oil revolution, public policy
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