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T. Boone Pickens, the never-shy chairman of BP Capital Management and all-round oilfield curmudgeon, shook up an LNG Conference in Houston early last year by dismissing the notion of repealing the nation’s 40-year ban on crude oil exports. He told attendees that the U.S. should, instead, focus on reducing its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. “I am not too keen on exporting [crude oil], when we are importing 9 to 10 MMbpd,” he said, noting that 4.5 MMbpd of that comes from OPEC countries. Instead, Pickens added, the U.S. should strengthen its energy ties with North American partners Canada and Mexico. This harkens back to the original reasons for the ban, which were patriotic and strategic. OPEC had used oil as a weapon to create economic disruption. The point of the ban was to keep American crude in America, conserve resources and reduce imports. In fact, it did not accomplish any of these goals, and rational thought would suggest that the ban should be retired. However, reasons for keeping the law have evolved with the times.

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