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Ken Salazar gets an ass-kicking. Over to you, Capitol Hill. 6/24 update: Judge refuses White House drilling ban stay request; judge gets death threat

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 23, 2010 02:41 AM

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Git along, little dogie…

My syndicated column follows up on federal judge Martin Feldman’s decision yesterday overturning the Obama drilling moratorium. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has now signaled that he will push for another drilling ban — with brand-spanking new, wholly manufactured evidence, no doubt. Salazar is scheduled to testify to a Senate subcommittee on Capitol Hill later today at 11:00am. He better get the grilling he deserves over his junk science zealotry.

Info on today’s hearing. Gear up:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and newly appointed Bureau of Ocean Energy Director Michael Bromwich will testify before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee regarding reforms to strengthen offshore oil and gas oversight and enforcement.

Who: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director Michael Bromwich, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement

What: Testimony before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee regarding reforms to offshore oil and gas oversight and enforcement

When: 11:00 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where: Room 124, Dirksen Senate Office Building, 1st Street and Constitution Ave. NE, Washington, D.C.

***

Ken Salazar gets an a**-kicking
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

For all his John Wayne rhetoric on the BP oil spill, President Obama has failed to administer a swift kick to the ample, deserving rump of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. No matter. Federal judge Martin Feldman has now done the job the White House won’t do.

In a scathing ruling issued Tuesday afternoon, New Orleans-based Feldman overturned the administration’s radical six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling – and he singled out Salazar’s central role in jerry-rigging a federal panel’s scientific report to bolster flagrantly politicized conclusions. In a sane world, Salazar’s head would roll. In Obama world, he gets immunity.

The suit challenging Obama’s desperately political ban was filed by Covington, La., rig company, Hornbeck Offshore Services, which spoke on behalf of all the “small people” in the industry whose economic survival is at stake. As the plaintiffs’ lawyer argued in court, the overbroad ban promised to be more devastating to Gulf workers than the spill itself. “This is an unprecedented industry-wide shutdown. Never before has the government done this,” attorney Carl Rosenblum said.

Scientists who served on the committee expressed outrage upon discovering earlier this month that Salazar had — unilaterally and without warning — inserted a blanket drilling ban recommendation into their report. In fact,seven panelists explicitly opposed a blanket ban as “punishing the innocent.” As Feldman recounted in his ruling:

In the Executive Summary to the Report, [Salazar] recommends “a six-month moratorium on permits for new wells being drilled using floating rigs.” He also recommends “an immediate halt to drilling operations on the 33 permitted wells, not including relief wells currently being drilled by BP, that are currently being drilled using floating rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Much to the government’s discomfort and this Court’s uneasiness, the Summary also states that “the recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” As the plaintiffs, and the experts themselves, pointedly observe, this statement was misleading. The experts charge it was a “misrepresentation.” It was factually incorrect.

Allow me to be more injudicious: Salazar lied. Salazar committed fraud. Salazar sullied the reputations of the experts involved and abused his authority.

And for what purpose? To exploit the Gulf crisis, appease the eco-extremists, and stymie the economic recovery to which the Obama White House pays oily lip service.

The scientists whose views were misrepresented reportedly received an apology from the evidence-doctoring Salazar, but where are the consequences? Where is the accountability? Terrific news: Salazar, the report-rigger, is in charge of overseeing the new overseer. That’s right. The Teflon Interior Secretary spent Monday afternoon swearing in another bureaucrat, litigator Michael Bromwich, who will head the newly-named “Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement” (formerly the beleaguered Minerals Management Service).

According to Salazar, Bromwich “will be a key part of our team as we continue to change the way the Department of the Interior does business.” Present company exempted, of course.

Judge Feldman soberly illuminated the way the Department of Interior does business in concluding that Salazar’s “invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.” Salazar, with his boss’s blessing, imposed the blanket moratorium on Hornbeck and 33 permitted rigs without a shred of threat/safety analysis. Of course, Hope and Change have always been exercised with Arbitrary and Capricious power.

The White House immediately announced plans to appeal the ruling. But for once, Chicago-on-the-Potomac has run smack in the rule of law and lost. For all the other small people over whom the Obama administration has run roughshod, let’s hope it sets a lasting precedent.

***

6/24 Update: This afternoon, Judge Feldman refused the White House request to stay his order striking down the drilling moratorium>:

The Obama administration lost another legal skirmish on Thursday when a judge refused to put on hold his decision lifting a ban on deepwater oil drilling imposed after the worst spill in U.S. history.

After striking down the moratorium on Tuesday, a federal judge in New Orleans rejected an administration request to allow the six-month ban to stand while the government appeals his decision.

Judge Martin Feldman issued a brief order denying the stay request, pointing to his previous ruling that criticized the ban as arbitrary, too far-reaching and not justified given the impact on thousands of oil industry workers and communities.

The government has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and can ask it to stay Feldman’s decision.

And now: Death threats for Judge Feldman.

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