President Obama Endorses More Oil Production—in Brazil

by Myron Ebell on March 25, 2011

in Blog, Features, Politics

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The most astonishing event this week was President Barack Obama endorsement of more oil production—in Brazil.  In a speech to a CEO Business Summit in Brasilia, the President said:

By some estimates, the oil you recently discovered off the shores of Brazil could amount to twice the reserves we have in the United States.  We want to work with you.  We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.  At a time when we’ve been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy.

This is the same President who has spent the last two years doing everything he can to reduce oil production in the United States.  Cancelled and delayed exploration leases on federal lands in the Rocky Mountains; the re-institution of the executive moratorium on offshore exploration in the Atlantic, the Pacific, most Alaskan waters, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico; the deepwater permitting moratorium and the de facto moratorium in the western Gulf.  The result is that domestic oil production is about to start a steep decline.  An article on Red State by Steve Maley summarizes the future effects of the Obama Administration’s war against oil.

Maley quotes an authoritative summary (PDF) provided in a recent publication by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration:

Off shore oil production in [the 2011 forecast] is lower than in [the 2010 forecast] throughout most of the projection period [through 2035] because of expected delays in near-term projects, in part as a result of drilling moratoria and in part due to the change in lease sales expected in the Pacific and Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS), as well as increased uncertainty about future investment in off shore production. [page 8]

I’m all for more oil production in Brazil, but what’s good for Brazil would also be good for the United States.  Were the federal government to open some of America’s vast untapped offshore and Alaskan oil resources, it would lower our trade deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, provide billions of dollars in royalties to the federal treasury, create hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs not subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and contribute significantly to our long-term prosperity.  Given the economy’s current dismal long-term prospects, continuing to lock up our resources is detestable.

President Obama’s remarks in Brazil show that he understands this.  He clearly thinks prosperity is good for Brazil.  But it is something that he is working mightily to deny to Americans.  He and his administration have adopted policies that they know will reduce oil and coal production, raise energy prices, and make Americans poorer.  As the President said when gas prices reached $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008 when he was running for President, the problem wasn’t the price, but that prices had risen too suddenly. In fact, the Administration is full of senior officials who are on record supporting much higher gasoline and electricity prices, starting with Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Victor Davis Hanson takes a stab at explaining the background assumptions that have led to the left’s insane war against energy:

The administration’s energy visions are formulated by academics and government bureaucrats who live mostly in cities with short commutes and have worked largely for public agencies. These utopians have no idea that without reasonably priced fuel and power, the self-employed farmer cannot produce food. The private plant operator cannot create plastics. And the trucker cannot bring goods to the consumer — all the basics like lettuce, iPads, and Levis that a highly educated, urbanized elite both enjoys and yet has no idea of how a distant someone else made their unbridled consumption possible.

I think that’s part of the explanation, but only scratches the surface.  At its core, the modern environmental movement (and the Obama Administration has been staffed with professional environmentalists) hates access to energy because it gives people power over nature.

Susan Baillargeon March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm

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