Rick Perry: Crude export ban should be lifted

HOUSTON — Former Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday gave his support to lifting a decades-old ban on crude exports, calling it a “major error” to prevent U.S. oil from being shipped overseas.

Perry, a likely candidate for the 2016 Republican  presidential nomination, said that if he won the White House,  he would propel North America into the global energy business “in a big way.”

“If energy is going to be used as a weapon, we need to have the largest arsenal,” Perry said at the discussion hosted by Bloomberg at the JW Marriott in downtown Houston on Tuesday.

Most crude exports have been banned under laws that arose during Middle East oil embargoes in the 1970s that led to gasoline shortages in the United States.

Crude prices have tumbled dramatically in recent months after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries refused to slash production in the face of growing global supplies, leading to an imbalance that has loaded the nation’s storage tanks with oil and forced down prices further.

With U.S. production still ticking up, the price plunge has intensified oil companies’ drive to end the 40-year-old ban as they seek to sell their oil on the global marketplace.

Perry on Tuesday characterized OPEC’s refusal to stop pumping oil as an attempt to undercut the Russian and Iranian economies and test the resilience of the U.S. shale boom.

“The OPEC nations would like to strangle these countries that are not friendly to them and obviously send a little message to the U.S. as well,” he said. “I don’t think they are going to be successful.”

Texas, and Houston in particular, will inevitably feel the pinch as producers pare back their budgets and idle rigs, Perry said. But the state is better positioned to weather the downturn than it was during the bust  in the 1980s because the economy is more diverse with a heavier reliance on medicine and technology.

“This is not going to be 1985,” he said.

Perry said he was frustrated with President Barack Obama for vetoing legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline. The  long-delayed TransCanada Corp. project could help add to the nation’s available oil supplies, and combined with the domestic shale boom, help drive down electricity prices for consumers and help ignite a manufacturing resurgence, Perry said.

“You couple that with some corporate tax policies to help drive down the tax rates and you give incentives for companies to either come back onshore or to again grow organically in this country,” he said. “I think the best days of America are in front of us. We are just a few good policy changes and leadership changes at the top from that occurring.”

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