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Ken Salazar needs another ass-kicking

By Michelle Malkin  •  July 16, 2010 10:42 AM

All hat, no cattle

Ken Salazar needs another ass-kicking
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

When President Obama picked former Democrat Sen. Ken Salazar as his
Interior Secretary last year, the Coloradan donned a 10-gallon hat and
dubbed himself the “new sheriff in town.” But Cowboy Ken is the one
who needs to be run out on a rail. In his continued quest to shut down
offshore drilling, Salazar has run roughshod over scientific
integrity, transparency, and the Gulf Coast economy.

Two federal courts have batted down the White House-approved,
Salazar-directed drilling moratorium. Outraged scientists — appointed
by the Obama administration, mind you — blasted Salazar for
doctoring their work and contradicting their conclusions to bolster
his manufactured case for the sweeping six-month ban. Undaunted,
Salazar conjured up a “revised” moratorium rubber-stamped by oil spill
czar Michael Bromwich, who sheepishly admitted that the new ban was
“roughly congruent with the original moratorium.”

The sham changes would permit some drilling rigs to re-start
operations – but only under onerous, fantasyland testing conditions
that industry leaders say would be virtually impossible to meet. In
short, Salazar’s “new” moratorium is a lot like Salazar himself: All
hat, no cattle.

The Interior Secretary then strode into the first hearing of the
presidential oil spill commission this week to tell the panelists that
he wanted their work to “inform” his book-cooked deepwater drilling
ban. It was, essentially, Salazar guiding the dog-and-pony show
participants to bark and neigh on command. The panelists were
“stunned” by Salazar’s explicit expectation of policy support,
according to hearing observers, because weighing in on the moratorium
had not been a part of their original mandate.

None of the panelists, conveniently enough, has actual technical
expertise in deepwater drilling. So on what, exactly, can they
“inform” Salazar? No doubt Salazar and his superiors at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue have soaked up the online anti-drilling rants of
prominent oil spill panelist Frances Beinecke. She’s a leading
official at the rabidly anti-corporate Natural Resources Defense
Council, where she publicly called for offshore drilling bans five
times over the past two months before snagging a seat on Obama’s
“expert” panel. NRDC was one of the leading environmental lobbying
voices pushing for the commission in the first placde. The eco-tail is
wagging Team Obama’s dog.

The good news is that not all the panelists are rolling over.
Co-chairs William Reilly and Bob Graham absorbed an earful from local
residents, small business owners, and public officials from the Gulf
region this week. Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu decried the
economic devastation Salazar is overseeing: “Even the revised
moratorium will force thousands of hardworking Louisianans and others
along the Gulf Coast into the unemployment lines.” Lafourche Parish
(La.) President Charlotte Randolph blasted the zero-risk tolerance
mentality of Salazar and Beinecke, illustrating the folly behind the
offshore drilling moratorium: If “safety” demands a blanket halt to
deepwater drilling, she said, then all oil tanker traffic in the Gulf
of Mexico should be halted, too. “An oil tanker is a four times
greater risk of spilling its cargo than an oil well blowing out,”
Randolph pointed out. “Tankers carrying 3 million barrels of oil
traverse the Gulf daily en route to Houston.” That’s roughly the
amount of oil BP spilled over the last three months.

After the first hearing this week, Reilly openly challenged the White
House foot-dragging on 33 oil rig safety assessments, wondering “why
it’s going to take so long to convince people the existing rigs are
safe.” For his part, Graham blasted the “disconnect between Washington
and the Gulf region about the sense of urgency needed.”

In Washington, at least one watchdog has pegged Salazar as a crooked
shooter. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking
Member Darrell Issa exposed the Interior Secretary’s serial
obstructionism in a letter released Thursday on Salazar’s failure to
comply with 45 document requests related to the feds’ post-spill
response. “The lack of cooperation is appalling for an Administration
that prides itself on transparency and openness with the American
people,” Issa noted. “Indeed, it appears that the Administration is
more concerned with hiding from the tough questions than answering

While Salazar ducks and dithers, deepwater oil drillers are canceling
contracts or moving their rigs overseas – and American jobs along with
them. Diamond Offshore moved one of its rigs to Egypt. Murphy Oil
Company is also moving operations to the Congo. And Bloomberg News
reported that “the number of offshore rigs operating in U.S. waters
has plunged 71 percent to 16 from 56 before the blowout, according to
surveys by Baker Hughes Inc.”

The new sheriff’s in town alright — and he’s shooting the Gulf Coast
economy in the foot, head, and heart. Heckuva job, Kenny.

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