"Amid calls to free up crude oil exports from the United States, debate is brewing among the refining industry over whether to support or oppose the proposal.
Opinion is mixed, even among oil refiners, on whether lifting the ban on exporting crude would help or hurt the industry. Meanwhile, both sides of the debate sharply disagree on what the impact to consumer prices will be should restrictions on selling U.S. crude oil overseas be lifted.
Proponents of exports argue that freer markets are the way to go and generally see international oil prices declining over the long term as new U.S. discoveries expand the global supply. That should subsequently pull gasoline and diesel prices down as well, they suggest.
Opponents, meanwhile, say the ban has helped keep U.S. crude at home, which has pushed down the price of American oil compared with imports. That has led to lower gasoline and diesel costs on the East and West coasts, which have gained access to the lower-cost oil in the last few years. The opponents foresee expanded U.S. crude sales abroad putting more competitive pressure on East Coast refineries, while doing little to lower international oil prices."