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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, this amendment is borne of real frustration that a lot of folks have faced over the last few years, particularly in my State of Louisiana. As you know, we have had a rough time, particularly following the BP disaster.
First there was that real environmental disaster, which was a shock to our system and our ecology. But second, and of perhaps even more lasting impact, there was the economic hit that was magnified enormously when the Obama administration, in my opinion, overreacted and instituted a full-blown moratorium on production drilling--drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. That formal moratorium was ended in late 2010, but a de facto moratorium continued for many months. Even now there is a permanent logjam that has permitting at a much lower pace than before the BP disaster.
This is a broader problem because, at least off the coast of Louisiana, we are producing some energy. In many other places of the country where we have an abundance of energy, we are not allowed to get it because this Federal Government, particularly under this Obama administration, puts well over 90 percent of our domestic resources off limits.
In the midst of everything that was going on in the gulf, in the midst of that moratorium shutting down jobs in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama traveled to Brazil and he said that the United States wanted to be a tremendous partner and cheerleader of the development of Brazil's offshore industry. I have to tell you, that was like rubbing salt in the wounds of tens of thousands of oilfield workers and others who were suffering because of the Obama administration policy here in this country really discouraging energy development. The way President Obama proposed to be a strong supporter and partner and cheerleader of Brazilian offshore development was through an Export-Import Bank loan.
There are many of these sorts of loans. In August 2009--talking about Brazil, the case I mentioned--the Wall Street Journal reported in an editorial that ``the U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's State owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro.'' Again, the Export-Import Bank approved a $2 billion loan to aid Brazilian oil production. That is what President Obama was cheering and encouraging and making happen. It has happened other places as well. Again, the Ex-Im Bank specifically approved a $2.84 billion loan and loan guarantee to a subsidiary of Colombia's national oil company. This money was intended to expand and upgrade an oil refinery in Cartagena, Colombia. In 2011 the Ex-Im Bank again authorized $1 billion for Pemex, Mexico's national oil and gas company.
Here we have this Federal Government, through the Ex-Im Bank, financing energy production overseas at the same time as this Federal Government tries to shut down and make difficult a lot of that activity here at home. That is the frustration that produced this amendment, No. 2103. This amendment is simple. It simply says that Ex-Im Bank is not going to provide those loans or loan guarantees related to fossil fuel development in foreign countries if there are similar projects in this country that are not getting comparable help. It is not suggesting that the Ex-Im Bank is going to participate directly in projects in this country. It simply says first things first--American jobs, American energy, American production. So we are not going to finance the world to produce energy when we create obstacles right here at home to do the same.
The last several years have proved the need for this sort of commonsense provision, in my opinion. President Obama traveling to Brazil, ballyhooing the development of their industry while his moratorium and other policies substantially shut down our own here in the United States, proves the need for this commonsense amendment.
I urge all my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to support this Vitter amendment No. 2103. Again, it is very simple, very logical, and pure common sense. Before the Ex-Im Bank uses U.S. taxpayer money to fund, to finance the guarantee of oil and gas and other energy development overseas in foreign countries, we are going to look here at home to see if similar projects exist and are they getting any similar help or inducement from the Federal Government.
I urge support of this amendment as a way to move forward in a commonsense way on this reauthorization.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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