The Interior Department’s Culture of Contempt

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Oops, they did it again. President Obama’s grabby-handed environmental bureaucrats have earned yet another spanking from the federal judiciary over their “determined disregard” of the rule of law. Isn’t it time to give these misbehaving government hooligans a permanent timeout?

Federal judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana excoriated the Obama Interior Department Wednesday for defying his May 2010 order to lift its groundless ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. Nine months later, not a single permit has been issued. Several deepwater platforms have moved out of the area to take their businesses — and an estimated 5,000 jobs — overseas. Billions of dollars in potential oil revenue and Gulf lease sales-related rent have also dried up.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — a.k.a. The Loathsome Cowboy — thumbed his nose at the judge’s preliminary injunction last June and dragged his feet into July, when his bureaucracy lost its bid for a stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals. Salazar then concocted a second “revised” moratorium to replace the one Feldman had nullified as “arbitrary and capricious, and therefore, unlawful.” The second deepwater drilling ban (which oil spill czar Michael Bromwich admitted was “roughly congruent with the original moratorium”) was “lifted” in October, but still no permits were issued.

This is because Team Obama’s eco-radicals never intend to approve them.

Every step of the way, the White House team has displayed unbridled defiance — by continually broadcasting its intent and determination to impose the blanket moratorium in spite of the judicial order, and by ramming through a second sweeping ban that did nothing to address the court’s concerns after the injunction was issued.

The Interior Department’s contempt for the law is outweighed only by its contempt for sound science.

Remember: Salazar is the data doctor who falsely claimed that the administration’s blanket moratorium report was endorsed and peer-reviewed by seven scientific experts — when, in fact, eight of the scientists studying the issue for the government explicitly said they “do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium” on floating drilling.

Remember: The Interior Department inspector general publicized e-mails in November showing that Salazar’s office and former environmental czar Carol Browner’s office collaborated on the false rewrite of the White House offshore drilling ban report.

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