Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
Four Texas Democrats in Congress are warning President Joe Biden against restricting U.S. oil exports as a way of fighting high gas prices.
“We urge you and your administration to reject any well-intentioned but misguided calls to curtail American crude oil and/or petroleum exports in reaction to the high gasoline and diesel prices currently seen at the pump,” the Texas Democrats say in a new letter to Biden. “As you know, domestic gasoline prices are set by an international benchmark (Brent), and restricting US crude exports would lower global supply and increase costs here at home.”
The letter was led by two South Texas Democrats, Reps. Henry Cuellar of Laredo and Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, and the other Texas Democrats who signed were Reps. Sylvia Garcia and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Houston. Other signatures come from California Democratic Rep. Lou Correa and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio
It is the latest example of how Cuellar and Gonzalez are on edge over Biden’s approach to the oil and gas industry as Americans deal with high prices at the pump. The average U.S. gas price has hovered around $5 per gallon in recent days.
Last week, Cuellar and Gonzalez separately pushed back on a letter Biden wrote to major U.S. oil refiners, telling them to increase supply and that “historically high” profit margins are unacceptable. Gonzalez urged Biden to “stop with the blame game,” while Cuellar said the letter “does not resolve the issue at hand.”
Now the lawmakers appear concerned the Biden administration may try to issue new restrictions on U.S. oil exports. Bloomberg reported Thursday that top Biden administration officials were mulling restricting such exports and that discussions “have picked up in recent days.”
The lawmakers argue that curtailing U.S. oil exports would lead to costly inefficiencies because “refineries would no longer have the flexibility needed to optimize output.”
“This would be a misguided policy now, and it would be a misguided policy in the future,” the lawmakers say.
Both Cuellar and Gonzalez are running for reelection as national Republicans try to gain new ground in South Texas. Republicans got a boost by flipping an open seat there in a special election last week, and the GOP winner, Mayra Flores, will face Gonzalez in November.
Join us Sept. 22-24 in person in downtown Austin for The Texas Tribune Festival and experience 100+ conversation events featuring big names you know and others you should from the worlds of politics, public policy, the media and tech — all curated by The Texas Tribune’s award-winning journalists. Buy tickets.