Sen. Lankford takes on Treasury Secretary about buying Venezeulan and Iranian oil


Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford had some pointed words and questions of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen why the Biden administration is targeting American oil and gas producers while at the same time the nation is buying more oil from Venezuela and Iran.

It came during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget where he challenged Yellen over the Biden Administration’s energy policies.

The Senator disagreed on the administration’s budget that allows other businesses, but not oil and gas, to deduct normal business expenses.

 “Is there a reason why those particular manufacturing locations should not be able to deduct normal business expenses and every other manufacturer in the country should?

Yellen: Well, in general, subsidies to fossil fuels are something that the President—

Lankford: This is not a subsidy, intangible drilling cost is not subsidy that’s the cost of actual production.”

Sen. Lankford wasn’t finished with his pointed questions of the Biden administration’s energy policies.

I guess my question is, why do those manufacturers not get to write off their business expenses and everyone else does?

Yellen: Because the fossil fuel industries have benefited from many subsidies over many years that makes it difficult for clean energy to be taken up.

Lankford: Well, I noticed recently that Treasury and the State Department have reduced the sanctions on Venezuela and that we’re now buying oil from Venezuela when we weren’t for the last four years. So I guess my question is the President’s proposal is to make it harder to produce American energy but there’s still an acknowledgement that we need oil still. And so now we’re buying oil from Venezuela, when previously we weren’t. If you go back two years ago, even the first two years of the Biden Administration we’re not buying any oil from Venezuela knowing that it’s the Maduro regime and all that they’re doing to their people. But there’s a proposal to increase taxes on American companies but buy more for Venezuela. Why would that be?

Yellen: The relief that was put into place reflected progress that seemed to be made in Venezuela in respect to our foreign policy goals for—”

Then the Senator raised the issue of Iran.

Lankford: Would that the same with Iran? Because I know for some of the Iranian sanctions there was a…New York Times reported 27 tankers were then insured by an American company. They were able to be able to…put Iranian oil on the World Market when we had pretty strict sanctions on Iran.

Yellen: We have very strict sanctions on Iran and I’m not aware of anything that we do that is permissive in terms of Iranian oil exports.

Lankford: I’ll have my team share this New York Times article with you that detailed out how Iran is avoiding American sanctions and it’s not as tight as it was and that there are even American companies providing insurance for Iranian tankers moving oil now in a way it wasn’t in the past.

Yellen: Well, I’d be happy to look at it but we are very focused on trying to impose the strictest possible regime—

Lankford: As well we should, the Iranian proxies have attacked American forces 200 times and have taken the lives of Americans even in the last few months.”

Lankford has repeatedly raised concerns over the Biden Administration’s decisions to target American oil and gas producers. Lankford joined his colleagues to push the White House to enforce oil sanctions against Iran and introduced legislation to prohibit the importation of Iranian and Venezuelan crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, and liquefied natural gas into the United States.

Lankford is the lead on the Protecting Domestic Energy Production Act, which would allow companies to consider intangible drilling costs (IDCs) when calculating taxable income. IDCs allow oil and natural gas companies to recover their intangible costs more quickly, freeing up funds to reinvest in development, resulting in more jobs.

This bill will provide targeted relief for the small and mid-sized oil and gas producers across the state of Oklahoma. The Democrats’ so-called Inflation Reduction Act attacked oil and gas companies by taking away their ability to deduct normal business expenses under the Book Minimum Tax. The bill is supported by the American Exploration and Production Council and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance. 

It’s not the first time the Senator sparred with Yellen. He did the same a year ago in pressuring Yellen about the Biden administration’s bailout of Silicon Valley banks.



CLICK HERE to download Lankford’s Q&A from Box.

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A on YouTube.

Source: press release