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Kirby Responds to Doocy Question on Domestic Oil Production

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John Kirby participated in his first White House briefing on Wednesday. The former Pentagon press secretary was tapped by the Biden administration last month to serve as Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council.

He fielded several foreign policy questions, including inquiries about President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, a key oil exporter at a time when fuel prices are sky high. Biden is expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom U.S. intelligence agencies implicated in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman denies involvement.

On the campaign trail, Biden denounced the kingdom as a “pariah,”

On Wednesday, Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked Kirby, “How is it that you guys have determined that it’s in the U.S. national security interest to ask Saudi Arabia to drill more oil instead of just letting oil companies drill more here in the U.S.?”

Kirby replied by noting the number of drilling permits that have been issued.

“Well I think you know, Peter, there’s some 9,000 unused drilling permits here in the United States as well,” he responded. “Look, the oil production issue is a global issue, and OPEC+3 has already increased – preset increases – by more than 50% just for July and August.”

Kirby added, “We’ve never said it’s a national security interest that somebody has to pump more oil, and again, there’s unused permits here in the United States.”

It’s true that there are more than 9,000 approved permits to drill. However, many companies have opted not to drill, citing costs and other regulatory hurdles.

“Oil and gas companies do not want to drill more,” analyst Pavel Molchanov told CNN Business in March. “They are under pressure from the financial community to pay more dividends, to do more share buybacks instead of the proverbial ‘drill baby drill,’ which is the way they would have done things 10 years ago. Corporate strategy has fundamentally changed.”

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