The New “NIMBY”: Obama Wants to Drill in Brazil, But Not At Home

March 22, 2011

Obama Subsidized Brazilian Offshore Drilling But Continues to Restrict Production of American-Made Energy


As gas prices hit $3.55/gallon while Obama travels to Central and South America, it’s worth remembering that in 2009 Obama announced that the U.S. government would encourage offshore drilling—in Brazil:


GAS AT $3.55/GALLON NATIONWIDE, UP FROM $2.82/GALLON A YEAR AGO(“Daily Fuel Gage Report, Current Average, Regular,” AAA, Accessed 3/21/11)


OBAMA SUPPORTS U.S. TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES FOR BRAZILIAN OFFSHORE DRILLING: “The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil’s Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.


“The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a ‘preliminary commitment’ letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas


Americans are right to wonder why Mr. Obama is underwriting in Brazil what he won’t allow at home.” (Editorial Board, “Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/18/2009)


As the Wall Street Journal notes, Obama’s support for Brazilian drilling is especially ironic given that Obama is facing criticism for his inaction on rising gas prices in the U.S.  Several voices from gulf states have pointed out Obama is presiding over a “de facto moratorium” on offshore oil drilling, a policy which continues to destroy U.S. jobs:


OBAMA MAINTAINS A “DE FACTO MORATORIUM”: “Gulf state lawmakers and the oil industry have accused the department of dragging its feet on the permits,enacting a de facto moratorium against new drilling, while the department has said it needs to ensure that safety and environmental protections are in place.” (Dan Berman and Darren Goode, “Interior Appeals Oil Drilling Ruling,” Politico, 3/4/2011)


AS AMERICA LOSES 74,000 BARRELS A DAY: “But the nation’s second largest shallow-water driller, Seahawk, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, citing a lack of permits.


“The Energy Information Administration estimated the country would lose 74,000 barrels a day in oil production in 2011 as a result of a six-month drilling moratorium.” (Steve Hargreaves, “Court Orders Obama to Act on Permits,” CNN, 2/21/2011)


Rather than easing their commitment to the drilling moratorium in response to rising gas prices, the White House reaffirmed its opposition to domestic production. When a federal judge ordered the White House to end its deliberate delay on the issuance of new drilling permits, the White House opted to challenge the court order:


JUDGE SAYS PERMITTING DELAY IS “INCREASINGLY INEXCUSABLE”: “‘Thepermitting backlog becomes increasingly inexcusable,’ the judge said. ‘Delays of four months and more in the permitting process are unreasonable, unacceptable and unjustified by the evidence.'” (Editorial Board, “U.S. Interior Department Needs to Move on Drilling Permits,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/4/2011)


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION APPEALS RULING: “U.S. offshore regulators asked a New Orleans appellate court to postpone a judge’s March 19 deadline for them to act on certain Gulf of Mexico drilling permits delayed by the Obama Administration’s drilling ban.” (Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Allen Johnson Jr., “U.S. Appeals for Delay in 30-Day Order on Drill Permits,” Bloomberg, 3/11/11)


Meanwhile, Obama is out making the outlandish claim that his administration is “encouraging offshore exploration and production”:


OBAMA: “First, we need to continue to boost domestic production of oil and gas…So any notion that my administration has shut down oil production might make for a good political sound bite but it doesn’t match up with reality. We are encouraging offshore exploration and production.” (Remarks from President Obama, White House Press Conference, 3/11/2011)


However, National Journal fact-checked Obama’s claim, pointing out that Barack Obama is “taking credit for something George W. Bush did.” When will Obama stop playing political games with rising gas prices that continue to strain families’ wallets?:


He doesn’t want to admit it, but President Obama is taking credit for something George W. Bush did.


“The White House is touting federal data that shows domestic oil production is at its highest level since 2003. In a blog post last week, Obama’s top climate and energy aide, Heather Zichal, points to Energy Information Administration data that shows oil production from the Outer Continental Shelf (which basically means the Gulf of Mexico) has increased by more than a third between 2008 and 2010…


“According to EIA’s short-term 2011 outlook, released last week, oil production was significantly higher in 2009 than in the years prior. Obama may have been in office for most of that year, but the oil production numbers are due to action taken before he became president. In 2010, most if not all of the production increase recorded is likely due to action that predates Obama, since Obama didn’t take any major action expanding offshore drilling his first year in office.” (Amy Harder, “Obama’s Fuzzy Oil Production Math,” National Journal, 3/17/2011)