With U.S. oil production at its highest level in more than two decades and oil imports dropping, Congress is considering loosening restrictions on U.S. oil trade policy, reports the Petroleum Marketers Association of America in its Nov. 8 Weekly Review.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) believes that it will happen soon indicating that there may be a shift in U.S. oil trade policy for the first time since the 1970s when the U.S. imposed trade restrictions on oil exports, but not for refined petroleum products.

The 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, enacted in the wake of the Arab oil embargo, imposed trade restrictions on oil exports, and since then, Congress hasn’t had the appetite to change it given America’s reliance on foreign oil. However, given production growth in the Bakken and Eagle Ford oil shale developments, the U.S. is now producing 7.5 million barrels of oil per day yet there are not enough refineries to accommodate the growth in production.

Although many lawmakers are eager to change U.S. oil trade policy, others believe that the oil should stay here in the U.S. to reduce prices. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has indicated that it supports loosening restrictions on oil exports. PMAA’s Motor Fuels Committee will review the issue to determine whether it is in the best interests for petroleum marketing companies and their consumers to loosen the oil export restrictions.