Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour
wishes President Barack Obama would display as much enthusiasm for offshore drilling in the United States as he has shown for oil exploration off the coast of Brazil. In an interview on Fox News Wednesday, Barbour — mentioned as a possible GOP presidential contender in 2012 — said Obama’s policies are crippling domestic oil production.
“The truth of the matter is that oil production in the United States is up a little bit — but that’s because of decisions that were made years and years ago, long before Barack Obama was president,” Barbour said, in response to Obama’s comments Wednesday that U.S. dependence on oil imports has been on the downturn and domestic production is increasing.
“His policies — particularly what he is doing in the Gulf of Mexico — will make our oil production fall, and continue to fall, when it could be increasing much, much more substantially, and make us a lot less dependent on foreign oil,” Barbour said.
Fox News’ Neal Cavuto asked Barbour, considering the turmoil in the Middle East, whether Obama should not be more supportive of domestic fossil fuel exploration.
“We do need to produce more American energy,” Barbour said. “Since the British came to Jonestown 400 years ago, one of our great advantages is abundant, affordable American energy. We still have a tremendous amount of oil in the United States, and I think, the president noted, we’ve got a tremendous increase in proven reserves for natural gas. Well that gas, we now know it’s there and can be produced because technology has changed.
“Well there’s a lot of oil there too, that we maybe haven’t discovered or haven’t proven the exact amount of reserves, because the government is not letting us go forward,” he said, adding the Obama administration hinders exploration for other energy resources as well.
“If you look at the difficulty to get a permit to mine coal in Appalachia, which produces half of our electricity today — and is going to produce an enormous part of it for years and years and years to come,” Barbour noted. “They’ve virtually shut in the Gulf of Mexico, and he said: ‘Well, they’ve started giving some permits down there’ — well I hope so.
“I wish he was as enthusiastic about producing oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico as he is off the coast of Brazil,” Barbour said, referring to comments Obama made earlier this month in Brazil that the United States looks forward to purchasing oil drilled for offshore by that nation.
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