January 28, 2020

David Turnbull, Oil Change International: david [at]
Ryan Schleeter, Greenpeace USA: ryan.schleeter [at]

Report: Reinstating the Crude Oil Export Ban Could Cut Global Emissions as Much as 181 Million Tons

A new report1 from Greenpeace USA and Oil Change International calculates the climate benefits of reinstating the crude oil export ban, a policy that limited the amount of carbon pollution the US shipped overseas for more than 40 years. The report finds that restoring the crude oil export ban could lead to reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of as much as 80 to 181 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year. By comparison, New York City accounts for 55 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.2 

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • The emissions reduction of reinstating the crude oil export ban is equivalent to closing between 19 and 42 coal-fired power plants or the same scale of reductions from implementing the Obama-era CAFE standards for fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks.  
  • Since the lifting of the ban, crude oil exports have grown more than 750 percent, from roughly 400,000 barrels per day in 2015 to 3.4 million barrels per day in October 2019. In 2019, 24 percent of US oil was exported. 
  • Policies to phase out fossil fuel production must be matched with strong just transition policies to ensure that the livelihoods of industry workers and communities are protected and improved in the switch to a renewable energy economy. 

Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner John Noël said:

“Oil executives have made billions peddling a product they knew would lead to climate emergency — and they show no signs of stopping. While all of the best available science says we need to phase out fossil fuel production to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the oil industry is doubling down on destruction as usual as it looks to expand. The next Congress and president must confront this polluting industry head-on by reinstating common-sense policy like the crude oil export ban and pursuing a just transition for workers in the fossil fuel economy.”

Oil Change International’s U.S. Program Director Rebecca Concepcion Apostol said: 

“Lifting the crude oil export ban has triggered out of control expansion in U.S. oil production, primarily in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico. Expansion in oil production has sparked a crisis of local air and water pollution, and an epidemic of gas flaring and venting that is accelerating climate change in real time. Our elected leaders in Washington must do everything they can to limit oil development, not roll out the red carpet for Big Oil to dig up more of the very oil making our climate crisis worse every day.”

Juan Mancias, Tribal Chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Nation of Texas said:

“As Autochthonous People and Original People to Texas we have always stood against the rape and destruction of Mother Earth.  The head of the snake is in Texas. It is time we have a call for action, political leaders need to take action against this desecration of Sacred Land.  Without an export ban in place private companies have been in a free for all at the expense of our Sacred Sites and healthy ecosystems, which is further ethnic cleansing of the Esto’kEstok’ Gna People which creates unhealthy threats toward our tribal identity and life ways. By lifting the ban it is much like handing out blankets that are affected with smallpox.” 

Policies to rein in the fossil fuel industry are popular with voters. In fact, the majority of voters in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina support restrictions on fossil fuel exports according to a November 2019 poll3 conducted by Civis Analytics on behalf of Greenpeace. 



  1. The full report, Carbon Impacts of Reinstating the US Crude Export Ban, is available here:
  2. Source:
  3. Across political parties, 53 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “we cannot address climate change while also growing the fossil fuel industry, for instance by approving new oil and gas leases or building new fossil fuel power plants, pipelines, or facilities to export fossil fuels” compared to just 30 percent who disagreed. Full poll results:
  4. To maintain independence, Greenpeace USA does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or elected official. We work to hold all candidates for office to the standard that science says is necessary to avert climate crisis, which means supporting a Green New Deal and ending fossil fuels.