Twelve U.S. lawmakers asked that President Bill Clinton
, who has only two days left in office, re-impose a ban on exports of Alaskan crude oil in order to protect consumers on the United States
' West Coast from high gasoline prices. In a letter to Clinton, the lawmakers cited recent news reports that BP (BP)
Amoco exported Alaska North Slope crude to reduce supplies on the West Coast and raise oil prices
in the region.
The lawmakers making the export ban request include Senators Ron Wyden
and Gordon Smith of Oregon, Barbara Boxer
of California and Patty Murray of Washington.
The lawmakers said secret oil company documents show that BP shipped Alaska crude
to Asia even though the company earned less profit on the exported oil than it would have if it sold the same oil in West Coast markets. BP has denied the allegations.
Since the ban on Alaska oil exports was lifted in 1996, West Coast consumers
have paid higher prices at the pump for gasoline than other areas of the country, the lawmakers said.
"Given the evidence that these exports in the past caused or contributed to oil price increases that have harmed West Coast consumers
, we urge you to take immediate action to prevent any future West Coast oil supply shortages or price increases from ANS crude oil exports
," they said. The lawmakers said while BP was not currently exporting Alaska crude, there were no legal restrictions that would prevent BP or other companies from resuming oil exports in the future. - (Reuters)