House Speaker John Boehner for the first time publicly endorsed ending a 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil Wednesday, lending weight to growing Republican momentum to lift the restrictions.

The Ohio Republican said that scrapping the policy would lower gasoline prices, add jobs and benefit allies.

"I would support lifting the ban and hopefully we can work together on a bipartisan fashion to move our energy policies into this century," Boehner said at a Capitol Hill press conference.

Momentum has been growing in the Republican House caucus to kill the ban. Many still haven't publicly embraced the idea, though, largely out of fear of being blamed by voters if gasoline prices rise.

Several studies, including those by the federal government, have showed that lifting the ban would lower gas prices, albeit marginally. Advocates of ending the ban say that's because exporting crude would allow producers to fetch higher prices, in the process circumventing a backlog at domestic refineries and encouraging more drilling.

But many Democrats want to keep the ban in place, fearing that it would cause pump prices to spike. Independent refiners also want to maintain the ban, as they contend its removal would result in job losses.