On November 5, LNGWATCH brought attention to the Faustian pact the Papua New Guinea government was entering into with the United States (see http://lngwatchpng.blogspot.com/2010/11/goethe-in-papua-new-guinea-somares.html). Sure enough evidence is now arising demonstrating quite concretely how the US government is using its influence to shape conditions in PNG to suit the economic interests of its natural resource operators.
Vitter slams Interior Department for sending staff to Papua New Guinea
By Andrew Restuccia - 12/15/10 05:41 PM ET
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) slammed the [US] Interior Department's offshore drilling agency on Wednesday for sending staff to Papua New Guinea to advise officials there on the best way to develop the country's offshore drilling infrastructure.
In a floor speech Wednesday, Vitter said the department should not be using its resources to send staff to Papua New Guinea when it has been struggling to approve offshore drilling permits in the United States.
"I find it outrageous that the same Interior Department that can't get a single exploration plan or deepwater drilling permit out the door apparently has the resources to send staff to a three-day workshop halfway around the world in Papua New Guinea to discuss offshore permitting," he said. "After months of foot-dragging and repeated claims that it needs more money to hire more staff to dedicate to offshore permitting, Interior's choice to allocate funds to the government of Papua New Guinea is a disgrace to the people of the Gulf Coast."
Staffers from the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) attended the technical assistance workshop, which was organized by the State Department.
"BOEMRE welcomes this opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with the government of Papua New Guinea," BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich said in a statement about the trip.
BOEMRE spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said Wednesday the staffers sent to Papua New Guinea were not involved in approving offshore drilling permits. "No BOEMRE appropriated funds were utilized for this travel for the four staff members who participated (none of which directly approve permits). Funds came from the Department of State via the U.S. Agency for International Development," she said in an e-mail to The Hill.