Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy grilled John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, on Monday over the Biden administration’s decision to permit Chevron to drill in Venezuela.
What is the background?
Over the holiday weekend, the Biden administration granted California-based Chevron a license to resume drilling operations in Venezuela.
The license is good for six months and requires the Venezuelan regime to continue good-faith negotiations on holding free and fair elections. The development is a partial rollback of Trump-era sanctions. But top American leaders made it clear those sanctions will be implemented again if President Nicolás Maduro’s government reneges on its part of the deal.
At the White House press briefing, Doocy asked Kirby about the hypocritical nature of Biden’s decision.
On one hand, approving oil drilling in Venezuela seemingly takes away from American oil companies, whose drilling and the revenue it generates would benefit the U.S. On the other hand, if Biden wants to stop oil drilling because of climate change, why is drilling in Venezuela acceptable?
“Why is it that President Biden would rather let U.S. companies drill for oil in Venezuela than here in the U.S.?” Doocy first asked.
Kirby responded by claiming Doocy’s question is “not an accurate take on the president’s view.” But Doocy used Biden’s own words — in which earlier this month he promised “no more drilling” — to show that it is, in fact, Biden’s view.
But instead of responding to the substance of Doocy’s point, Kirby regurgitated a debunked talking point that oil companies are not using thousands of already-approved oil permits.
“The president has issued 9,000 permits for drilling on U.S. federal lands — 9,000 of them are being unused,” Kirby said.
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirbyyoutu.be
“Does the president think there’s some benefit to the climate to drill oil in Venezuela and not here?” Doocy followed up.
But again, Kirby did not directly answer, instead claiming the development “has nothing to do” with the climate, despite Democrats emphatically claiming that oil drilling impacts the climate.
“Again, there are 9,000 unused permits here in the United States on federal land that oil and gas companies can and should take advantage of — 9,000. And we’re talking about one there in Venezuela,” Kirby excused.
That many permits? Really?
It is not true that Biden has issued 9,000 permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. That number, in fact, comprises permits issued under Biden and former President Donald Trump.
But it is also not true that just because an oil company is not immediately drilling where a permit has been approved that companies are not working to utilize them. A lease approval indeed does not even mean the land for which a lease has been approved will reliably produce oil.
But if the land is suitable for oil production, companies have to find, acquire, and develop that oil — a process that includes more regulatory red tape.