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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enjoys wielding power. Remember, during the Gulf oil spill he firmly stated that he would put “a boot on the throat” of British Petroleum.
He has now issued a memorandum for the use of science in decision-making, according to The New York Times Oct. 1 Green blog. Salazar declared: “The American people must have confidence that the Department of Interior is basing its decisions on the best available science…free of improper influence.” But it was Salazar who attached his Gulf drilling moratorium surreptitiously to a National Academy of Engineering report that did NOT recommend stopping drilling.
Trying to play the big shot again, Salazar issued his science policy rule because the White House Office of Science and Technology has dilly-dallied since March 2009 when President Obama told it to come up with guidelines to ensure government science was conducted without political influence.
Other federal agencies have been willing to wait for White House policy guidance on science—even for18 months. But Salazar, showing his chutzpah, moved ahead on his own, saying his science policy will “ensure that scientists will not be coerced to alter scientific findings. Even though it was okay to reverse their findings, as he did on the drilling moratorium mandate.
Salazar last month said we can expect stricter rules for offshore drilling once the moratorium ends and it won’t end until the federal bureaucrats are “assured that the industry is operating safely,” according to a Mother Jones story. We “still need oil and gas from the Gulf Of Mexico,” Salazar said in a speech; however, the deep-water Horizon explosion and spill “laid bare fundamental shortcomings in the oil and gas industry’s safety practices.”
And only he can fix things.
The petroleum industry and most Republicans strongly oppose the moratorium. Now, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) pledged to block action on Obama’s nominee for director of Management and Budget until the moratorium is lifted. She indicated the moratorium was worse than the damage done by the oil spill. A Louisiana State University economist told Bloomberg BusinessWeek Oct. 2 that if oil rigs are idle for the full six-month moratorium, the payroll loss could be as high as $450 million.
Continuing to throw his weight around, Salazar said in his speech: “We will only lift the moratorium when I, as Secretary of Interior, am comfortable that we have significantly reduced those risks.” He also announced two new rules, the Drilling Safety Rule and the Workplace Safety Rule. Drillers will also be required to have their plans reviewed by independent experts, Salazar said. Salazar apparently believes the industry has no self interest in operating as safely and inexpensively as possible—that only government or its hand-picked “experts” know best.
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