- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2011

It’s no surprise that gas prices are on the rise as President Obama returns from his truncated excursion to Rio. The commander in chief has shown more interest in helping Brazilians develop their energy resources than he has in helping ease the pain of Americans stung by spiraling prices at the pump.

Three months into the new administration, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, received approval for at least $2 billion in U.S. government-backed loans. The money will go toward the purchase of advanced U.S. equipment that will further boost Brazil’s energy independence. If only the administration had the same commitment to developing American resources.

Thanks to Mr. Obama and his congressional allies, Alaskan drilling is off-limits, oil-shale development on Western lands is forbidden, oil-and-gas development off Virginia’s coast is prohibited, and almost all new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is thwarted. Those Gulf energy fields, which long have been the nation’s most productive, remain blocked even after a federal judge found the administration in civil contempt for its refusal to allow more permits. According to Energy Information Administration estimates, Gulf oil production this year will be 130 million barrels fewer than pre-ban levels.

Louisiana State University business professor Joseph R. Mason told a March 17 House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that what critics call the “permitorium” has been even more economically detrimental than previously forecast. He estimated the drilling ban has killed 13,000 jobs in the Gulf region. “The lost output will not be regained, and the lost wages cannot be spent,” Mr. Mason said.

The president may be back from his exotic vacation, but it’s hard not to believe that his heart lies elsewhere.

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