Politics

Sen. Vitter asks why the U.S. is sending money to Brazil for oil

Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter reinvigorated his pursuit Friday for the reasons behind why the administration is providing South American countries money to produce oil.

“U.S. domestic energy policy cannot be based on crippling access, stifling permitting, and increasing taxes on production – as President Obama has recently proposed – while at the same time loaning billions to foreign government-owned entities to produce abroad,” Vitter said. “These loans may well create numerous jobs domestically for U.S. businesses to sell product overseas. However, there is no doubt that domestic production creates domestic jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.”

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (ExIm) has loaned Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, and Columbia’s national oil company, Ecopetrol, $2 billion and nearly $1 billion respectively.

In a letter released Friday to the president of the ExIm, Fred Hochberg, Vitter asked what the United States can hope to get in return for these investments.

“I would appreciate a full accounting of the return on these ‘investments’ ExIm has been making as we develop domestic energy policy in a period when gas prices are above $4/gallon and American families and businesses suffer,” he wrote in the letter. “These loans may well create numerous jobs domestically for U.S. businesses to sell product overseas. However, there is no doubt that domestic production creates domestic jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.”

Friday’s letter comes as a follow-up to a letter Vitter sent the agency in March and to which he never received a reply.

“Louisianians are frustrated with the ongoing de facto moratorium, and I would appreciate a full accounting for the return on investment the American taxpayer has received, and is anticipated to receive on the $2 billion loan to this Brazilian petroleum company,” Vitter said back in March. “I want to understand why permitting domestically is nearly stalled, and if there is at least a return on this investment over the last year and a half for supporting production offshore Brazil.”

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