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BP Finds Way To Bypass US Crude Export Ban

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the letter-of-the-law dept.

United States 247

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Bloomberg reports that the oil industry is pressuring President Barack Obama to end the 41-year-old ban on most crude exports but British Petroleum (BP) isn't waiting for a decision. The British oil giant has signed on to take at least 80 percent of the capacity of a new $360 million mini-refinery in Houston that will process crude just enough to escape restrictions on sales outside the country. 'It's a relatively inexpensive way around the export prohibition,' says Judith Dwarkin 'You can lightly ruffle the hydrocarbons and they are considered processed and then they aren't subject to the ban.' Amid a flood of new US oil, the demand for simple, one-step plants capable of transforming raw crude into exportable products such as propane is feeding a construction boom along the Gulf Coast. The first such mini-refinery, built for 1/10 the cost of a complex, full-scale refinery, is scheduled to open the first phase of its 100,000 barrel-a-day crude processing plant in July, The mini-refineries take advantage of the law that allows products refined from oil to be sold overseas, though not the raw crude itself. 'The international buyers of these products will likely need to refine them further, so this is basically a veiled form of condensate exports,' says Leo Mariani."

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Yes, but... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 months ago | (#46427149)

But ... the CO2!

Re:Yes, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427209)

Not BP's problem, and until we make it theirs, why should they bother?

Re:Yes, but... (-1, Troll)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 7 months ago | (#46427829)

We need to crack down on this!!!

Let's keep all this oil here and try to bring the freakin' price of gas back down to what it was pre-Katrina at least.

But I'm guessing the tree huggers behind the Obama admin, won't want to lower prices back. I think they want to keep them high to try to kill off cars in the US.

Energy policy is laughable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427261)

The world runs on oil.

Fuzzy bunnies and magic unicorn dreams don't change that. All the hot air from politicians won't change that.

Every last drop of oil is going to be burned, damn the consequences - it's too profitable. Developing viable real alternatives for energy transfer and storage will require a focused engineering effort on the scale of the Manhattan project deployed in conjunction with mass adoption of nuclear energy.

Utilities desperate to find alternatives are building LNG generation plants. This is stupid.

I bet the retirement fund on every drop of oil being burned. So far I've been right. We'll see if I end up eating cat food - but I don't think that's likely...

Re:Energy policy is laughable (1)

alex67500 (1609333) | about 7 months ago | (#46427461)

All the hot air from politicians won't change that.

In fact, it adds to the problem ! ;-)

Re:Energy policy is laughable (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 7 months ago | (#46427495)

Plastics. We're don't burn them and drops of oil are used to create them.

I'll take that retirement fund now, thx.

Re:Energy policy is laughable (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46427617)

The world runs on oil.

The world runs on long-chain hydrocarbons. They could come from the air, but instead the entrenched base of oil barons is making sure we keep burning every drop of oil:

I bet the retirement fund on every drop of oil being burned. So far I've been right. We'll see if I end up eating cat food - but I don't think that's likely...

I think it's more likely you'll end gasping, or perhaps wheezing before rattling.

Re:Energy policy is laughable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427683)

... We'll see if I end up eating cat food - but I don't think that's likely...

All Ralston Purina needs to do is change their package design and ads - then we'll see who's eating what! (Don't bet they won't.)

We need this urgently today for political reasons (1)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 7 months ago | (#46427699)

Regardless of the ecological effects of our chemical energy dependency and the grey-area nature of this workaround, I applaud the move in general.

The world has given too much power to oil- and gas-funded dictatorships. Right now, the West is hesitating about sanctions against Russia (which are required for peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine) because they depend too heavily on the Russian resource exports.

The proper way is of course to lift the restrictions, but that is a heavy, lengthy political process, and this clever workaround provides a quick solution that we need urgently today.

We can gradually move to renewable energy later. It makes more sense to use the oil for other things anyway.

Which is why corporations are born criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427163)

You tell them no, they find a way around it.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 months ago | (#46427171)

They're only breaking the spirit of the law, not the letter.

That makes it perfectly OK, just ask the NSA if you don't believe me.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 7 months ago | (#46427193)

A Typical Mix-Maxer response. The rules _technically_ allow this, so I will ruin the game for everyone by twisting/optimizing them to the limit to win even if I have to destroy the game to do it.

Future generations will see the mass influx of STEM geeks into the finance and business arena as a catastrophic social development in early 21st century industries.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427355)

Whereas the WTO rules do not even technically allow the US to impose free-trade restrictions like this. So BP is getting around the US government's illegal trade sanctions by wriggling within them. It seems fair enough to me. It's not "destroying the game", nor is it anything to do with STEM geeks. But why let the facts get in the way of a good anti-intellectual rant, eh? Yes, let's remove everyone with scientific knowledge from the financial system, that will help no end *rolls eyes*

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427717)

Here is the deal. The US historically had reserves of oil and other natural resources just in case something happened, we as a nation could keep our strength and keep going. These never were for exporting, as that would weaken the nations position in the future. This is the key reason why I'm personally against drilling in Alaska and other places.

Now, BP wants to tempt fate when Oil Companies already have a bad reputation and go against the public good. If they have enough crude to be able to sell internationally, then they don't need as many pumps. I don't hold any hope of them being slapped down for breaking the spirit of the law, but I do want it.

I hate that all fuel refining pretty much goes through them, so no matter what gas station I visit, they have a hand in it.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 7 months ago | (#46428033)

This is basically the same thing that we saw the other day, when the judge said that Upskirt videos were not against the law. The problem is, there is no shame left in the world, because that is harmful to little sensitive minds.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427245)

This is why I sometimes like the Finnish system of law in which something that is clearly done in order to circumvent a current law is considered as breaking it. This removes all the stupid verbal acrobatics that US lawyers resort to in order to interpret a law differently than what was intended.

Example: Say you want to donate someone a large sum of money, but don't want to pay taxes for it. One might try to circumvent the tax by marrying someone, immediately divorcing and having a contract that in case of divorce the other person has a right to precisely the amount of money that you were supposed to donate to them in the first place.

Technically if you do that, you don't have to pay any tax, but the tax authorities would immediate judge this as an attempt to bypass taxes and you would be ordered to pay the tax doubled. This applies to practically all laws and the ways that courts interpret them. Most Americans probably think this is stupid, since they see possible abuse. However, this hasn't materialized in Finland.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46427269)

the Finnish system of law

I'd be happy if they just enforced the American system of law. Does that mean no action in this case? Yes, until or unless the laws or changed. However, there are so many egregious violations of law by major corporations (*cough* Wall Street *cough*) that don't get investigated, let alone prosecuted, that I'd be thrilled if they enforced existing laws.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46427345)

Technically if you do that, you don't have to pay any tax, but the tax authorities would immediate judge this as an attempt to bypass taxes and you would be ordered to pay the tax doubled. This applies to practically all laws and the ways that courts interpret them. Most Americans probably think this is stupid, since they see possible abuse. However, this hasn't materialized in Finland.

In the US, the scenario you described would be called tax evasion and you would be charged by the IRS. Even in Finland, I am sure there are illegal ways to do things and legal ways to do things. Surely, every time you buy something from the store you aren't charged for larceny because it is illegal to steal and you circumvented that law!

Technically, what BP is doing is legal under the law. The correct solution, if the US doesn't like it, is to change the law.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#46427373)

Technically if you do that, you don't have to pay any tax, but the tax authorities would immediate judge this as an attempt to bypass taxes and you would be ordered to pay the tax doubled. This applies to practically all laws and the ways that courts interpret them. Most Americans probably think this is stupid, since they see possible abuse. However, this hasn't materialized in Finland.

In the US, the scenario you described would be called tax evasion and you would be charged by the IRS. Even in Finland, I am sure there are illegal ways to do things and legal ways to do things. Surely, every time you buy something from the store you aren't charged for larceny because it is illegal to steal and you circumvented that law!

Technically, what BP is doing is legal under the law. The correct solution, if the US doesn't like it, is to change the law.

In the UK it would be "tax avoidance" if it did not break any law. members of parliament would wring their hands and call "shame" - then do the same things themselves. -- ~~~~

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (2)

queazocotal (915608) | about 7 months ago | (#46427687)

Well - sort-of.
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/avoidan... [hmrc.gov.uk]

There are problems with this sort of approach - implementing 'anti-abuse' rules means that now instead of (in principle) understandable legislation - you have a collection of people all of which may take a slightly different approach to decision-making.
The other issue is that it's not practically going to impact (for example) Amazon - or any of the other major tax avoiders - as they are able to use international financial structuring to avoid national tax, in a way that these rules do not impact.

Nice, in theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427433)

Its a nice concept, in theory. But in practice it probably creates (or at least enhances) the same one of the problems we already have in our "justice" system here in the US. It creates overly broad laws that can be interpreted any number of ways. That wouldn't be a problem in a system with respectable prosecutors & judges, but we don't have that in any way shape or form. If you want evidence of just how bad things have you don't have to go far. Look at the Aaron Swartz case, a college student crushed for "stealing" electronic copies of publicly funded research papers. Do a search on "civil forfeiture" and you'll find hundreds of cases where prosecutors weren't able to prove any illegal activity, but were still able to seize peoples homes, cars & life savings.

Re:Nice, in theory (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46427781)

Its a nice concept, in theory. But in practice it probably creates (or at least enhances) the same one of the problems we already have in our "justice" system here in the US. It creates overly broad laws that can be interpreted any number of ways.

I understand the concern, but I don't think you can have laws that are resistant to loopholes unless you basically make them so vague that nobody can be really sure what the law is.

I think the Finnish system is more about risk management. You define something that is outright illegal and will definitely get you in trouble. That then creates legal risk that absolutely any activity whatsoever might be found as violating the rule, but the probability of that goes up as you get closer to the line.

The US system basically encourages companies to dance right up to the line without going over. The Finnish system would encourage companies to stay well away from the line, because you can never tell how close is too close.

Both have their pros/cons. However, at least the prosecutors who abuse the Finnish system are elected, unlike the lawyers and corporations who abuse the US system.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427965)

Truly scary. Remind me never to go to Finland. Sounds like the "thought crimes" right out of 1984.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (5, Insightful)

rwise2112 (648849) | about 7 months ago | (#46427251)

They're only breaking the spirit of the law, not the letter.

True. They are 'getting around' the law against exporting crude, by not exporting crude. It seems the law needs to be amended to define better what is considered exportable if they want to stop this.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46427751)

They're only breaking the spirit of the law, not the letter.

True. They are 'getting around' the law against exporting crude, by not exporting crude. It seems the law needs to be amended to define better what is considered exportable if they want to stop this.

I doubt that is even possible. There is no law that you can write that somebody else won't find a way to bend. Just look at wall street.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (3, Insightful)

paulpach (798828) | about 7 months ago | (#46427899)

They're only breaking the spirit of the law, not the letter.

True. They are 'getting around' the law against exporting crude, by not exporting crude. It seems the law needs to be amended to define better what is considered exportable if they want to stop this.

Perhaps they should get rid of the ban altogether? Seriously, with the trade deficit spiraling out of control [ourfuture.org] , it makes no sense at all to ban exports.
Rather than question BP for 'getting around' the law, we should question why we have such bad law in the first place.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about 7 months ago | (#46428009)

They're only breaking the spirit of the law, not the letter.

True. They are 'getting around' the law against exporting crude, by not exporting crude. It seems the law needs to be amended to define better what is considered exportable if they want to stop this.

Perhaps they should get rid of the ban altogether? Seriously, with the trade deficit spiraling out of control [ourfuture.org] , it makes no sense at all to ban exports. Rather than question BP for 'getting around' the law, we should question why we have such bad law in the first place.

Agreed. That's why I said 'if they want to stop this'.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#46427627)

More general statement: groups of individual people find ways of rationalizing anything through a process of "everyone else is doing it so it must be okay" and kicking out the people who oppose the groupthink.

Corporations, government agencies, religions, industries.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 7 months ago | (#46427783)

I also would never break any laws if I had the people who wrote the laws working for me.

Rich people who pay less of a tax rate than people who make a whole lot less aren't violating any laws, but they are surely fucking this country over, their flag-waving and jingoism notwithstanding.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427797)

They're only breaking the spirit of the law, not the letter.

That makes it perfectly OK, just ask the NSA if you don't believe me.

You lost me on the NSA thing??? The NSA has secret courts and politicians in there back pockets, as well as ignorant/arrogant citizens, so they make up laws and rules that fit what they want to do.

Obviously companies can, and do, the same with lobbyists, and I have a feeling that during the writing of that ban, they wanted this loophole put in there. So while the overall ban on "crude oil" is still there they apparently devised a method to determine what is and isn't considered "crude". The article talks about fuddling with the "hydrocarbons" just enough that it is still crude oil, but not according to the Ban.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#46427191)

Politicians do the same thing.

In fact, everyone does that... its not criminal... its human.

We are as a species... opportunists. It is our default attitude as a species.

We are not predators, herd animals, ambushers... etc... we are opportunists. We pick the low hanging fruit. It is our nature.

You put something in front of us that blocks us from getting what we want and we'll find ways around it or through it. Or we'll just do something else if that's more profitable.

In this case, they found a cheap way around the export ban. So they started doing it.

It is a little ballsy of BP though... given their recent history I'd think they'd want to stay away from that sort of thing.

I do agree they shouldn't be doing that. But don't blame all corporations for that behavior. It is human.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Akratist (1080775) | about 7 months ago | (#46427353)

People really don't get this principle when they say "There ought to be a law..." as if declaring something by fiat will make it so. Should people respect the environment? Yes. Should they behave in a socially responsible way? Yes. Etc... The problem is that unless people's desires align with that sort of thinking, they're not going to change how they act. It's a social problem, where we live in a society that values excessive individualism (although, in an oddly conformist way, material wealth, quick and shallow self-gratification (i.e. all your problems go away with a pint of ice cream or a little pill), and so on. People should also remember that regulators and politicians are cut from the same sort of cloth as the people in BP who're trying to get around these bans (and then our political system and government makes more sense all of a sudden).

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#46427427)

In what way is our individualism excessive?

Should we subsume our identity into something else?

What? Nationalism and patriotism? If not that then what legitimacy would that identity have?... Organized religion?

I don't think our individualism is excessive. In fact, i think many of the problems we've had lately have come from an erosion in our individualism.

You note that much of our individualism is conformist. Well, is it individualism at all then? Probably not.

Individuals don't seek conformity. They seek individual fulfillment. This strikes some as anti social. But then conformist pressure is considered "social" behavior despite being restrictive and frequently harmful to the individual.

Here is the other issue with individuals. They're individual. Once someone truly divorces themselves from conformity they cannot be grouped without misrepresentation. Thus, once that happens you can point at ONE individual and judge him. But you can't judge them all since they're all distinct.

Most of the tragedies in human history can be traced to misguided GROUP action.

Go through history and find examples of individuals that did great harm.

The most you'll find is the occasional serial killer. They're very uncommon and their harm while traumatic is relatively minor.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427387)

Your cynical view of human nature is not born out in a real experience. The people who take advantage, who are opportunists, are actually not the majority. Oh sure, they get a lot of attention, but they are the squeaky wheels, so we do pay more attention to them.

But most people, you put a block in front of us, will stop.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#46427981)

Opportunism isn't evil though.

That's that problem with more interpretations of people's morality. You have to remember that at base level, people are amoral. That isn't to say they are unmoral... just amoral. The natural response is a response without morality.

Now we can condition morality into people, but its just a condition. Its an artificial construct imposed on natural behavior.

And an artificial construct can be pretty much anything. If you want to talk about human nature, then you have to examine humanity WITHOUT that construct. And that humanity is opportunistic.

If you're interested in the real truth of it, then you'll see you have to strip away culture to see what people are actually like at base level.

Stupid rule anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427205)

Why have a law like that in place at all. If the US government wanted the crude, they could buy it. Why stop someone from selling what they've legally worked for?

Re:Stupid rule anyway (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46427321)

Why stop someone from selling what they've legally worked for?

If you think BP produced the petroleum, you're a few hundred million years out of date. They extracted it, and performed some minimal refining, but what produced the product they extracted? Neither BP nor anyone else can produce the raw product, and there is a finite supply of it. Therefore the reason for a market - that higher prices provide an incentive to produce more of something - doesn't apply in the long run. The petroleum under the ground in the US is a national resource.

Re:Stupid rule anyway (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46427659)

Therefore the reason for a market - that higher prices provide an incentive to produce more of something - doesn't apply in the long run. The petroleum under the ground in the US is a national resource.

What of the air in the atmosphere? Is that not an international resource? Should we not have a market for use of what the atmosphere will bear, perhaps to preserve CO2 (and particulates, and VOCs, etc) at pre-industrial-revolution levels? We now literally have cars whose exhaust is cleaner than their intake in "polluted" cities, where the value of "polluted" is vastly exceeded by some cities. I'd be looking at Beijing if I could see it.

Economics is all well and good if you don't get to ignore externalities. Perhaps we institute a system of eco-economics (see: Mars trilogy) before we find ourselves unacceptably mired in debt to physics.

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427473)

You tell them no, they find a way around it.

They have pens and phones. The law doesn't matter.

Why should we hold corporations to higher standards than we hold President Obama?

Re:Which is why corporations are born criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427719)

You're right, we should them to lower standards, which they can't even meet.

The President is impeachable by the House and Senate, the same cannot be said of every corporation.

nothing new (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 7 months ago | (#46427169)

crude oil, lightly shaken, and exported to the world.
revenues, lightly tossed, and exported to Bermuda.

Both cases just avoiding the law through legal means. In other words, the law's an ass.

Re:nothing new (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#46427181)

The world prefers its crude shaken, not stirred.

Re:nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427365)

They'll also want a bailout too.

Re:nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427425)

Time to stop subsidizing the oil industry!

British company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427179)

I'm not one who understands the trading and registration of companies but I thought the majority shareholder was JPMorgan?

Was a British company not anymore (5, Informative)

realxmp (518717) | about 7 months ago | (#46427215)

BP hasn't been very British in quite a while, a better name might be "Standard Oil" given how many of the component companies it is made up of came from that particular operation. It gets called British whenever it's politically expedient.

Re:Was a British company not anymore (3, Informative)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 7 months ago | (#46427961)

and to back that up some more. These old reports lists US ownership to be just about equal with UK http://www.globalresearch.ca/w... [globalresearch.ca] AND.. BP, Transocean and Anadarko were the main players in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. http://www.globalresearch.ca/u... [globalresearch.ca]

Re:British company? (2, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 7 months ago | (#46427329)

If the USians want to cast it in a bad light, they call it "British Petroleum". It makes it sound sinister and evil.

Re:British company? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 7 months ago | (#46427529)

Calling it a British company is debatable, but more defensible than calling it "British Petroleum (BP)". British Petroleum isn't even its previous name.

Re:British company? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#46427633)

Even when it was called British Petroleum it was mostly owned by the camel-jockeys.

But that's Thicky Pickens for you...

Dear America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427185)

...don't you have a concept about an "agreement" and the "spirit of an agreement", and how violating one means also violating the other?

I'm not surprised that companies find loopholes in the legislation. But I am surprised that they are allowed to exploit these loopholes on the scale of building complex structures designed specifically to circumvent the letter of the law.

"I'm not building an atomic bomb, I'm just incidentally making stuff that a toddler with a screwdriver could happen to possibly assemble into an atomic bomb."

Re:Dear America... (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46427315)

..don't you have a concept about an "agreement" and the "spirit of an agreement", and how violating one means also violating the other?

Would you want to be arrested for violating the spirit of a law in the opinion of the arresting officer?

Why do I keep seeing slashdot "beta" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427211)

This beta is ugly as hell and hard to read.

It's fascinating (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427243)

The number of slashdotters that bleat about "teh evil corporations that break teh law!"
But support bypassing copyright law and getting their content for free because "information must be free".

It's the same thing people.

Frankly I'm not sure what the point of the oil export ban is for... My gas is near its all time high here so all this theoretical excess oil isn't helping the price any.

Re:It's fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427271)

Slashtards like to make up their own rules as they go along without considering the consequences of those rules.
 
They'll just make up more nonsense when you defeat their logic by using their own rules and metrics against them.
 
I'm surprised more of them aren't politicians. They operate on the same level.

Re:It's fascinating (3, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46427351)

It's the same thing people.

No it's not. Forget the simple minded propaganda that copyrights are a form of property like physical property - they're a government granted and enforced monopoly that raises prices many fold by artificially restricting what would otherwise be almost cost free production of copies. That's nothing like petroleum or any other physical property. Moreover, unlike creative works, or even manufactured items or services, there is a fixed quantity of petroleum available. The situations are the exact opposite of each other.

Re:It's fascinating (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 7 months ago | (#46427363)

The number of slashdotters that bleat about "teh evil corporations that break teh law!"
But support bypassing copyright law and getting their content for free because "information must be free".

It may be the same thing, but it isn't necessary the same people. We aren't a borg collective who all think alike. Some people defend Free Software, which requires copyright law in order to exist. Some people download all the torrents. There may be a cross-section that does both, which is as you say hypocritical. But the existence of that cross-section does not invalidate the opinions of those who consistently hold one position or the other.

Also, not all laws are created equal. Some people may support political measures such as export controls and sanctions, while not supporting copyright. If you broke the speed limit last year, does that mean that you are not entitled to justice if someone assaults you today?

Re:It's fascinating (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46427643)

The number of slashdotters that bleat about "teh evil corporations that break teh law!"

What's appalling isn't that, but the ones who bleat about the evil corporations breaking the law when the evil corporations are NOT breaking the law.

Re:It's fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427867)

And what about the people who broke the racial segregation laws in order to protest them? Many of the people you find complaining about businesses breaking the law, will say they support what the civil rights activists did. But it is the same thing right?

Or maybe what people are complaining about is not that a law is being broken or not, but about the actual ends instead of the means. Maybe people think there shouldn't be segregation, regardless of current law, that there shouldn't be long copyrights, regardless of current law, that oil shouldn't be easily exported, regardless of current law.

BP != British Petroleum (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427247)

BP haven't been known as British Petroleum for many years. It seems to be a tag most used (now) by the US. [I wonder if there have been any recent events that might cause the folks in the US to think that US folks weren't involved? Better to point the finger elsewhere.]

Inherent in nature (0)

UPZ (947916) | about 7 months ago | (#46427265)

The goal of a corporation is to maximize profit at whatever cost to anyone else. The goal of a democratic government is to maximize the population's well being. The two are fundamentally opposed to each other by their very basic nature. But if you let the government run by people with a corporate mindset then it stops doing the job it was expected to do.

Re:Inherent in nature (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 7 months ago | (#46427327)

The goal of a corporation is to maximize profit at whatever cost to anyone else.

Tim Cook might not agree with you. The goal of a corporation is whatever its owners decide the goal should be.

Re:Inherent in nature (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 7 months ago | (#46427561)

I would say Tim Cook is doing an excellent job of maximizing profit.

He may be doing a lot of other, more noble things as well, but its all causing his company to maximize its profit.

Is he noble, or just good at what he does and picking 'the right way' to give people what they want?

Re:Inherent in nature (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46427623)

True enough. Note that Tim Cook is NOT the owner of Apple. The stockholders are the owners. As long as most of the stockholders agree with Cook, he's fine. As soon as they don't, he's history.

I expect that the stockholders will agree with him as long as the stock increases in value and/or provides dividends better than the competition. As soon as what he wants starts costing them serious money, he's gone.

Re:Inherent in nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427435)

"The goal of a democratic government is to maximize the population's well being."

That is not at all the goal of a democratic government. The only reason a democratic government exists is to exercise the will of the people, and to protect their rights from harm.

Government is not responsible for "well being."

Re:Inherent in nature (1)

tsqr (808554) | about 7 months ago | (#46427869)

The goal of a democratic government is to maximize the population's well being."

That is not at all the goal of a democratic government.

A lot of people mistakenly think that "insure domestic tranquility" and "promote the general welfare" mean "try to make everyone happy" and "give the people what the want", when they really mean is "maintain order so things runs smoothly" and "provide a system of laws that allows people to pursue their interests without undue interference from the government". Note that the Surpreme Court ruled that "the Preamble indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution" and went on to point out that "[the Preamble] has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government...", in Jacobson v. Mass

They're not bypassing the ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427267)

They'd be bypassing the ban if they were exporting crude, but they are not exporting crude, so they are not bypassing the ban.

They're exporting refined petroleum product, which is perfectly legal.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Re: They're not bypassing the ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427459)

Yeah but there is a lot of anger towards e.g. pedophiles who get round the ban on underage sex by waiting until they are old enough!

Just like the drug war (1)

Akratist (1080775) | about 7 months ago | (#46427289)

Politicians and regulators still have yet to realize that people will do what they see fit, despite laws, regulations, and penalties. On the personal side, if you're trying to regulate people harming themselves, they are willing to spray paint in a bag and destroy their brains by inhaling it to "get high"...what law can you make that will affect such a naked desire to harm one's self? Outside of the brain damage, this seems to be the same sort of thing, on a much larger scale. The market always exists, and always will exist, because it's nothing but a measure of how much people value certain things and outcomes and what sort of price they're willing to pay to get them. BP spending some money to export crude this way just shows that they're willing to go a little higher over these regulations.

More respect for law than Obama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427313)

At least BP is following the letter of the law, if not the spirit (which I don't think it's fair to hold against them because our government has shown way too often that if a person follows the spirit of the law they'll still get horse fucked for technical violations...)

Statutory Obamacare deadline politically inconvenient? Obama unilaterally changes it. That's a direct violation of the law.

Senate in session? Obama makes "recess" appointments to the NLRB anyway.

Tell me why we should hold BP to a higher legal standard than we hold the President.

Re:More respect for law than Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427903)

That's why we have the judicial system. Get back to us when Obama or any other president refuses to abide by the court's ruling on a question of law.

Just when you thought BP could not get any worse (0)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 7 months ago | (#46427325)

And here I thought American companies are the most slimy, we are continually reminded that BP trumps them all

Re:Just when you thought BP could not get any wors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427333)

What is so bad about this? The U.S. has some stupid protectionist law and BP finds a way around it.

Re:Just when you thought BP could not get any wors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427501)

"What's so bad about this?"

Perhaps the fact that it's oil drilled in the US and subsidized by the American taxpayer? and now it will go elsewhere in the world, subsidized by the American taxpayer.

Re:Just when you thought BP could not get any wors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427853)

if the us govt wants to keep the oil within the borders, it's very simple. Just pay above the market price and stockpile the shit out of it.
BTW, the whole world subsidizes your asses by using dollars and eating your inflation whenever you do any kind of QE.

Typical Bureau Land Mgt BS (5, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | about 7 months ago | (#46427361)

I did some reading to find the basis of the 1975 law, administered by my "favorite" federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management (Jack Abramoff's digs). Apparently it was originally passed during the OPEC embargo when the USA was concerned about domestic shortages. Then it becomes like ethanol or agricultural subsidies, it stays because it reduces competition. Probably a violation of the WTO as well, same as when USA, EU and Japan challenged China's rare earth metal export bans... which China tried to express as an "environmental law"... which is the only current argument I can find for the crude export ban (CO emissions).

So is it a case of corporations skirting a government law, or a government skirting an international fair trade treaty?

Re:Typical Bureau Land Mgt BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427417)

This. There's absolutely no reason for this law to still be on the books.

Re:Typical Bureau Land Mgt BS (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46427423)

So is it a case of ... a government skirting an international fair trade treaty?

I sure hope so. Enough violations and maybe we can just scrap the WTO and a bunch of "free trade" agreements.

P.S. Don't rebut this by citing a simple minded analysis like comparative advantage alone. Given how many things the simplistic application of that leaves out, it'd be more credible to cite a comic book.

Look Deeper (2)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 7 months ago | (#46427619)

I think that the United States has a vested political interest in controlling the sale of oil. [wikipedia.org] Which is not to suggest that you are wrong per se, but I think that the US oil policies are better understood in the context of hegemony than fair trade. However, the oil industry has been putting all of their propaganda efforts towards lifting this ban; I mark a half-dozen articles [google.com] in Forbes alone within the last two years. As long as they can keep away from any concerns about national security, they might get their wish.

Re:Typical Bureau Land Mgt BS (2, Funny)

DarkOx (621550) | about 7 months ago | (#46427647)

Our foriegn policy is so nakedly hypocritical I am not sure it matters.

Obama wins an election rams through a policy that is unpopular with the majority loudly protested by a small minority and the line is "elections have consequences."

Egypt elects a leader (belonging to party we don't like) and before his elected term is up, the military is ousting him, but oh no "its a not coup" we are told; because it it was we would have to stop giving the Egyptian military foreign aide, which would leave us with no way funnel tax monies to the MIC so they can build tanks nobody actually wants or can use.

Ukraine, ditto, a lawfully elected leader there makes some unpopular decisions, (which might even be in the interest of his nation in terms of securing financial aide) and no its not "elections have consequences" its "he must step down".

(Not to say Morrsi and Yanakovich are good guys; and were not doing things to undermine the idea of a working republic themselves; but I stand by the notion that you can't have the precedent legitimate elected leaders can be removed ahead of time out side some previously codified legal process and get a working democracy/republic )

China gets to keep their most favored trade status no matter what human rights violations we think they are committing, no matter if the currency is being manipulated or not, etc.

The only "international law" that exists anymore amounts to: whatever is seen in the immediate short term interest of the sitting US Presidential Administration. Its been especially bad post Regan. At least back in the good ol'days of Regan and before when we wanted to illegally market goods on the international market or manipulate the politics of some foreign power the CIA or NSA had to do it in secret; and we made a show of at least pretending to take treaties seriously.

Re:Typical Bureau Land Mgt BS (2)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 7 months ago | (#46427793)

Exactly. It was passed for political reasons when the resource market was completely different. Now both the market and the political situation has changed, and it makes sense to lift the ban or work around it ASAP. Then it will be easier to negotiate / impose sanctions upon authoritative regimes like Russia.

"Around the export restriction" (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 7 months ago | (#46427467)

Ahh the rule makers always love to complain about how people follow their rules.

Another way to say the same thing is that the export restrictions created a market for lightly processed oil products. If there is demand there is demand, it doesn't go away because you will it to. If that demand can be met in some way that fits in the rules and is still profitable, people WILL do it.

Trying to call that getting around a restriction is like the magic player complaining that someone insisted on playing stuff at the end of your turn after you said you were done. Duh read the rules, it isn't getting around anything...its what they say! Its following them.

So all the crap stays in the US? (1)

cazzazullu (645423) | about 7 months ago | (#46427483)

If we can only export refined oil, it means we have to refine it on US soil. This is a dirty business, producing loads of crap you don't want in your environment. This ban forces us to destroy our own environment, while exporting the goodies that come out of it. This doesn't seem long-term smart.

Re:So all the crap stays in the US? (1)

hippo (107522) | about 7 months ago | (#46427517)

Since most of the crap ends up in the atmosphere or ocean it really doesn't matter where you refine in the long term.

Re:So all the crap stays in the US? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 7 months ago | (#46427577)

In theory, (which is false in this case, I'm sure) we would do the best possible, cleanest refining we could, so as to cause the least amount of damage to the planet on the whole. That is, if we were looking beyond ourselves.

We aren't, and we won't.

Re:So all the crap stays in the US? (1)

kcmastrpc (2818817) | about 7 months ago | (#46427595)

Not when there is more money to be made out of doing it the easy way.

Re:So all the crap stays in the US? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46427629)

The idea is to keep the oil in the US, for strategic reasons. If we burn up all the world's oil and keep ours in reserve, we're going to be in good economic (if not ecologic) shape in the endgame. That assumes, of course, that burning all those fossil fuels doesn't doom us first — the ecopalypse outpacing the singularity, if you like, though both labels are sensational. All life will not end, but equally, intelligence (and output) will not reach infinity.

Re:So all the crap stays in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427671)

It's short term smart because all the jobs are in the US.

Take a lesson from Mr. Vader (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 7 months ago | (#46427525)

The more you tighten your grip, the more will slip through your fingers.

Re:Take a lesson from Mr. Vader (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427657)

That was Tarkin, not Vader.

Re:Take a lesson from Mr. Vader (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427761)

That was Tarkin, not Vader.

It was Leia who said it, not Tarkin.

CAPTCHA: Rebels

Re:Take a lesson from Mr. Vader (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427795)

I'm pretty sure it was Princess Leia who said that, not Tarkin...

Re:Take a lesson from Mr. Vader (1)

ScooterComputer (10306) | about 7 months ago | (#46427805)

I came here to comment, but this was better and more "on target" than anything I was going to blather. Good comment.

Are you sure this wasn't the intent of the law? (5, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 7 months ago | (#46427645)

>>...new $360 million mini-refinery...demand for simple, one-step plants capable of transforming raw crude into exportable products such as propane is feeding a construction boom along the Gulf Coast.

Call me cynical, but it seems that most legislation aims to protect the existing jobs of stalwart political supporters in sponsors' districts. (e.g., Obama's first term "stimulus," which was mostly used to shore up the existing salaries and pensions of his political base.) Perhaps the intent of this bill was to continue a Gulf Coast construction boom, leading to more voter, er, labor-intensive refinery jobs?

Drill, Baby Drill (2)

khelms (772692) | about 7 months ago | (#46427713)

It always amused me that some people thought more domestic drilling would return us to the days of cheap fuel. They seemed to think that the oil companies would ignore that they could get a higher price overseas and sell to us cheap out of the goodness of their hearts.

keep American oil in America (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about 7 months ago | (#46427731)

Apply ROMAN JUSTICE to any company trying to evade the restriction:

1) strip bare top Execs of all property and monies
2) flog 'em round-the-streets
3) decimate the survivors
4) sell wives and daughters to Saudi hoe.houses

The more Bush_like  Saudi blojobbing Texas plowboys caught-up in the discipline the better.

If I were a refiner, I'd be pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46427757)

I am surprised that the US refiners aren't rioting in the streets over this. Taking their work and sending it overseas is a bad thing.

Oh, wait. All the big refineries are owned by big oil companies. Nevermind.

Good thing we have strong anti-trust laws to prevent massive vertical integration from preventing these sorts of abuses.

Drill, Baby, Drill! (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | about 7 months ago | (#46427851)

End our dependence on foreign oil!
Drill here and use it here to offset imports!

Another retarded right-wing meme also slaughtered by this: obama is destroying oil production because he hates america!

Here, would you like a hand with that petard? (2)

pla (258480) | about 7 months ago | (#46427893)

Best possible answer:

Let them finish their mini-refinery. Let them ramp up production. Let them sign hundreds of contracts obliging them to deliver on partially-refined product.

Then, and only then, really fuck 'em by ban the export of insufficiently-refined product.

I have gotten so sick of companies dodging the intent of the law lately. I by no stretch of the imagination count as a hardcore law-and-order authoritarian, but it doesn't take Mother Jones to point out that we simply can't allow situations like this, or the whole Apple/IBM/Google/etc paying no US tax, and so on, to continue. If a company wants to play on our field, they need to follow our rules as intended.

"Well whatd'ya know, the rules of golf don't explicitly ban using a tunnel-boring machine to dig a straight shot to the cup! You sure got us, have fun turning Augusta into a strip-mine."

Re:Here, would you like a hand with that petard? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#46428015)

what exactly is the intent of the ban that is so evil compared to world oil market?

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