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09 July 2014

LEAKED: proposal reveals EU pressure on US to lift ban on crude oil exports

Read the full non-paper by the Commission, released by the Washington Post

Simon McKeagney, Editor

The Washington Post has leaked a non-paper by the European Union regarding the Energy and Raw Materials chapter of TTIP. The letter, dated May 27 2014, details efforts by the Commission to secure commitments from the US to export natural gas and crude oil to Europe, the latter of which has not been available for export since it was banned by Congress in 1975.

Such a move has alarmed environmentalists on both sides of the Atlantic, who fear that such an deal as part of TTIP will lock both sides into increased use of fossil fuels, driving up harmful production methods such as fracking in the US, and making it more difficult for both regions to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

"This leaked proposal further confirms our concerns that, while the public is being kept in the dark, the EU-US trade deal is being used to trade away regulations that protect us from dangerous climate change," said Natacha Cingotti, corporate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe. "Europe needs to end its high import dependency and make an urgent transition to clean renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.”

This is the second leak in as many months that relates specifically to the Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials. In May, the Huffington Post revealed a draft EU negotiating text, expressing similar aims, and defining the principals and definitions for a future agreement on energy. This week’s leaked letter underlines some of the motives behind such action:

‘Building a strong and comprehensive chapter in TTIP, which would combine our support for procompetitive regulation while also lifting bilateral restrictions on gas and crude oil, will show our common resolve to increase security and stability through open markets. Of course, while this may – for several reasons - not have immediate effects, it would increase potential sources of supply in the future.’

However, the non-paper also expresses concern over the US sides’ reluctance meet EU enthusiasm half way, citing that a clear agreement to discuss a comprehensive chapter on energy and raw materials is ‘still lacking.’

‘The U.S. has also been hesitant to discuss a solution for US export restrictions on natural gas and crude oil in the TTIP through binding legal commitments. The EU proposes to include a legally binding commitment in the TTIP guaranteeing the free export of crude oil and gas resources by transforming any mandatory and non-automatic export licensing procedure into a process by which licenses for exports to the EU are granted automatically and expeditiously. Such a specific commitment would, in the EU’s view, not require that the U.S. amend its existing legislation on oil and gas.’

US Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released a statement on Tuesday criticising the move saying that “attempting to use a transatlantic trade agreement to scuttle established U.S. law prohibiting the export of America’s oil would be a titanic mistake for our consumers, national security, and energy policy. The Middle East is in turmoil. Gas prices are sky high in the middle of driving season. And we still import millions of barrels of oil a day. Exporting our crude oil is not the answer for anyone but oil companies."

The Greens are against efforts to further undermine the transition to a low carbon economy, or prop-up the EU's unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels. We believe a much greater commitment needs to be made to secure Europe's energy independence through clean energy, which in turn will support bold efforts to lead the fight against climate chaos. Warning of the associated dangers of this agreement, Ska Keller, Green MEP said yesterday:

"Instead of discussing how both U.S. and EU progress in the promotion of renewable energy and the phasing out of subsidies for the fossil energy landscape, the Commission hopes for automatic and unlimited access to U.S. gas reserves. What that has to do with energy security, is a mystery. After all, the US ban on exporting crude is precisely based on ensuring US energy security. Giving up this simply to hand over their own resources does not make sense."

Read the full leak here:

EU Energy Non-paper by Lydia DePillis

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