Gasoline

A milestone in the U.S. emergence as an oil giant

A tanker is anchored at Irving Oil's Buckeye Terminal. Photo: Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The U.S. narrowly became a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products combined for the first time in decades last week, preliminary federal data shows.

Why it matters: It's a stark sign of the reemergence of the U.S. as a global oil market powerhouse — even if, as Bloomberg notes, it may only mark a brief return to the net exporter ranks for now. In particular, crude oil from shale formations has added millions of barrels of daily production over the last decade, and a 2015 law that ended a ban on crude oil exports is sending more and more of those barrels overseas.

Expert Voices

French protests a canary in the coal mine for climate-change policies

Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) protestors shout slogans as material burns during a protest against rising oil prices and living costs near the Arc of Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris
Yellow Vest (Gilets Jaunes) protesting rising oil prices and living costs, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Nov. 24. Photo: Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After three weeks of demonstrations against an increase in gasoline taxes, French President Emmanuel Macron yielded to the Yellow Vest protesters by suspending the hikes for six months.

The big picture: The wealthy countries pushing to address climate change have been seen as best equipped to bear the costs of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables, hence their commitment in the Paris Accord to channel energy transition funding to the developing world. But the French protests and Macron’s response suggest that even developed societies may meet resistance from their more disadvantaged members, who may not be so willing to make sacrifices to their way of life.

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