President Barack Obama has found a place where he can agree with the GOP on offshore drilling.
While his administration is actively blocking efforts to drill offshore in US waters, Obama is offering to help Brazil expand offshore drilling while U.S. production struggles to get back on its feet in the wake of the BP spill, according to Fox News.
The president, on the first leg of his trip to Latin America, said in Brazil over the weekend that his administration wants to assist the Brazilian government "with technology and support" in developing its oil reserves -- a black gold mine he said could hold twice as much oil as U.S. deposits.
"And when you're ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers," Obama said.
That drew swift criticism from Republicans. With U.S. oil exploration and drilling slowing to a crawl over the past year, they questioned why the president would throw U.S. weight behind Brazil, a country that also received a $2 billion loan for its state-owned oil company from the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
"We have abundant energy resources off Louisiana's coast, but this administration has virtually shut down our offshore industry and instead is using Americans' tax dollars to support drilling off the coast of Brazil," Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said in a statement. "It's ridiculous to ignore our own resources and continue going hat-in-hand to countries like Saudi Arabia and Brazil to beg them to produce more oil."
Gulf Oil CEO Joe Petrowski agreed it's better to encourage production in more reliable Brazil than in the "inherently unstable" Middle East.
Still, he called Obama's announcement "puzzling," even "humorous."
"More oil that is not concentrated in the Mideast is good for the world and good for America. It would be a lot better if we had the drilling here," Petrowski told Fox News. "And it seems a double standard and it seems somewhat hypocritical to a country that desperately needs jobs ... that we're encouraging other countries to create the jobs that we need."
Republicans say the United States should emphasize domestic drilling and exploration.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., complained that, with his comments in Brazil, Obama is pushing to deepen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"He appears to believe the answer is to shift our foreign energy dependence from one part of the world to another," he said.
Democrats in oil-rich states have also chimed in. "President Obama didn't have to go all the way to Brazil to find a 'new, safe and stable' source of oil. Energy opportunities are right here in Alaska," said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.
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