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Carlsbad Current-Argus: Lifting oil export ban part of spending bill

CARLSBAD -- Among many policies and provisions in the 2016 spending "Omnibus" bill in Congress is a policy that would lift the ban on exporting oil, according to a news release and national reports.

Lifting the ban on exporting oil would repeal restrictions on exports of products such as coal, petroleum products and natural gas. This would essentially allow producers in Southeast New Mexico to put their oil on the world market.

John Waters, executive director of the Carlsbad Department of Development, said that if the spending bill was passed and the export ban was lifted then it would mean huge things for the economy in Eddy County.

"There's a lot of oil that gets produced that just gets stored here which causes oil prices to be low, because we have such a large supply in the U.S.," Waters said. "If producers here was able to put their oil on the market then it would keep oil producers producing and keep people working."

The crude oil export ban was created in the 1970s during the Arab oil embargo.

The provision is part of a spending bill that will fund the government for the next year and is expected to be voted on and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate before the end of this week.

According to the news release from U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich's office, the deal that lifts the ban on oil exports includes a five-year retroactive extension of the Production Tax Credit through 2019, which supports wind energy, and a five-year extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit.

"This balanced and bipartisan agreement to lift the ban on oil exports while making truly robust investments in clean energy production will create and preserve jobs in New Mexico at a time when we truly need them,” Heinrich said in the news release.

Waters said the policies in the spending bill related to oil and clean energy would benefit New Mexico more so than other states, because this part of the state is also a leading innovator in solar production.

U.S. Sen.Tom Udall also stated in a news release that he was happy to see renewable energy tax provision for the next five years.

"These programs have contributed to tremendous growth in the solar and wind industries — and created jobs for New Mexicans," Udall said in a news release.

Udall's news release also states that with the new spending bill, the Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program would receive funding. PILT reimburses counties across New Mexico and pays for services like schools and public safety

Additionally, if the spending bill is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, more funding for the state's national labs such as Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant would also be provided.

U.S. Rep. Pearce was unable to provide comment on Thursday in regards to the policies included in the spending bill. In October, Pearce voted in favor for a bill that passed in the House of Representatives that would have lifted the ban.