Good question! In fact, as the Washington Post editorial board notes, it’s actually a series of good questions. Not only does Barack Obama need to explain his enthusiasm for drilling and oil consumption apparently everywhere but in the US, he also needs to explain why the US wants to import oil from Brazil, but not ethanol:
Brazil already produces vast quantities of a fuel — ethanol — that the U.S. government, under a policy long supported by presidents and farm-state members of Congress from both parties, has promoted as a green alternative to gasoline. But the United States, protecting its own heavily subsidized ethanol industry by means of a 2.5 percent tariff and a 54-cent-per-gallon duty, prevents Americans from importing all but trivial amounts of the stuff from Brazil. Therefore, we need more oil — much of it imported. In Brasilia, Mr. Obama spoke of strengthening U.S.-Brazilian technical cooperation on ethanol but did not propose allowing U.S. protectionist measures to lapse after their scheduled expiration on Dec. 31.
As for offshore drilling, Mr. Obama’s enthusiasm for punching holes in the ocean floor off Brazil is hard to reconcile with his decision, announced Dec. 1, to keep the waters off the East and West coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico off-limits to exploration indefinitely. His policy was a reversal of an earlier decision he had made to open some of those areas. …
[I]t is tough to reconcile with U.S. eagerness to “help” Brazil pump oil off its coasts and ship it here. U.S. companies, enticed by government loan guarantees, are already lined up to sell Brazil drilling equipment and services. Forget the implications for U.S. dependency on foreign sources. What does this posture say about American regard for the natural environment outside U.S. territory?
It says this: we’re willing to let foreign nations extract resources in ways that we refuse to do in America. Either that’s because we don’t really think there’s anything wrong with those policies, or because we don’t give a damn what Brazil does to its own environment as long as we don’t have to do anything to ours to benefit by it. It’s arrogant either way, and hypocritical in all senses.
Give the Post some credit for highlighting these hypocrisies. Most of the rest of the media ignored them, just as they ignored the fact that Obama was cheerleading for Brazilian oil production at the same time he had launched a war against Libya. Hardly anyone has commented on the connection between those two actions, but Obama has to have his eye open for ways to increase supply and lower fuel prices in case Libya’s production stays off line for a long time, which looks like a pretty good bet. Otherwise, oil prices will skyrocket and the American economy will stall further into stagnation, which will mean a short political career for Obama.
He could solve that problem by pursuing a “Drill, Baby, Drill” policy here in the US. Unfortunately, Obama apparently wants Brazilians to do the job that he won’t do on oil as much as he wants NATO to do the job he won’t do on Western leadership.