Don’t Drill Baby, Don’t Drill

In yet another chapter of Ken Salazar being my temporary favorite cabinet secretary, Salazar and Obama have reversed Bush’s plans to increase offshore drilling.

The Obama administration on Tuesday overturned another Bush-era energy policy, setting aside a draft plan to allow drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

"To establish an orderly process that allows us to make wise decisions based on sound information, we need to set aside" the plan "and create our own timeline," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in a statement.

Alleging that the Bush administration "had torpedoed" offshore renewable energy in favor of oil and natural gas, Salazar said he was extending the public comment period by 6 months.

"The additional time we are providing will give states, stakeholders, and affected communities the opportunity to provide input on the future of our offshore areas," he said.

Salazar also ordered Interior Department experts to compile a report on the Outer Continental Shelf’s energy potential — not just oil and gas, but also renewables like wind and wave energy.

"In the biggest area that the Bush administration’s draft OCS plan proposes for oil and gas drilling — the Atlantic seaboard, from Maine to Florida — our data on available resources is very thin, and what little we have is twenty to thirty years old," he said. "We shouldn’t make decisions to sell off taxpayer resources based on old information."

Granted, compared to Eric Holder (who gets to embrace renditions as his first meaningful act) and Tim Geithner (who is stuck with the worst economy in decades), Salazar has it easy. He can stay busy for months just undoing Bush’s harm. 

Still, it’s nice to see one Department improving on what Bush had done.

19 replies
  1. dakine01 says:

    Small steps and small improvements. Given all the shit that has piled up, it’s probably the best we can hope for.

  2. MaryCh says:

    He’s also a cockle-warmer out here on the left of the 100th meridian, where the federal footprint is huge.

  3. tejanarusa says:

    Hi, EW. Ironically, Salazar was one of the cabinet appointments that worried me most. I thought he was a Blue Dog – maybe the environment is his exception.
    Anyway, thanks for pointing this out. I was very pleased to see the announcement.

    • bobschacht says:

      I think Salazar was a blue dog– because I think that’s what he thought he needed to be to be re-elected in his state. Perhaps he is showing his “true colors” now, and that’s why Obama picked him?

      Bob in HI

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Feingold may be our only hope on this one. I bet he’s getting incredible pressure to back off from the leadership.

    I hate the thought of a truth commission. People should be prosecuted for this, darn it!

    On Topic: He can stall, but the simplistic solution of Drilling remains very popular. Regargless of the turth, the GOP can sell this as American Jobs, American Oil and American National Security. And it will sell well.

    Nobody want to hear that this won’t impact oil prices for at least 10 years. The jobs are real enough. But national security?!? Gimme a break!

    Boxturtle (If we want to stop the drilling, we need electric cars)

  5. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    OT — but the topic of Dickie Scruggs and Trent Lott has appeared in EW threads before, and this is just up at NYT, Dickie Scruggs (Miss atty) charged with mail fraud.…..ibery.html

    Lick your chops:

    Richard ”Dickie” Scruggs admitted he was involved in a scheme to entice a judge to rule in his favor in an asbestos case by promising he’d be appointed to the federal bench with help from Scruggs’ brother-in-law, former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.

    Scruggs, who already is serving five years in jail, was to be sentenced later Tuesday. Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence that would tack two years onto that term, and it could be reduced if he testifies in a later case.

    ”Mr. Scruggs’ cooperation has opened several doors,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman.

    I’m out of the loop; didn’t know Scruggs was serving time in jail.
    But this doesn’t look like good news for Trent Lott…

    All the more reason to appreciate Salazar actually acting in the PUBLIC interest.

  6. bmaz says:

    Really sad. Dickie is a nice guy; apparently quite corrupt though. Very troubling. wonder if he is knocking off time and conditions from his kid’s case?

  7. Coyoteville says:

    RoTL and bmaz.

    The site for all things Scruggs is An EW comment/reference over a year ago led me to it

    Part of their latest posting,

    “The US Attorney indirectly confirmed that Scruggs had a deal like this last summer and turned it down. When a reporter asked if this was the deal that had been on the table before, US Atty Greenlee said “but in this instance Mr. Scruggs was cooperating.”

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Ay, yi, yii!
      Dickie’s pretty much off my radar, except for bmaz’s kind words about him.
      Plus, former Sen Majority Leader Trent Lott bein’ his brother-in-law an’ all. Plus, I note on Wikipedia** that Trent Lott was US Senate Majority Leader from June 12, 1996 – January 3, 2001.

      Which just happens to be the period in which the credit derivatives that are at the core of our tanked economy were pushed through the US Senate and foisted on Clinton. Not that I’m claiming Lott was involved in developing CDOs (the legislation creating them excluded them from federal oversight per the ‘deregulation’ market fundamentalist ideology Lott helped implement.

      Coyoteville, I’m glad someone is tracking all this mess.
      So Mr Scruggs appears to be cooperating now, but wasn’t last summer?
      Interestinger and interestinger.

      Here’s hoping Salazar covers himself tens sides of sidewise by being so transparent that no one can lay a hand on his decisions.

      ** Which I realize is not always correct, but it sure is handy.

  8. EdwardTeller says:

    Here’s Alaska Sen. Msrk Begich’s as-yet unpublished response to Salazar’s announcement:

    “Alaska has long prided itself as being America’s energy storehouse and Secretary Salazar’s announcement today underscores that important role for our state. I am pleased the secretary wants to take a comprehensive look at the country’s energy needs and will allow more time for full discussion of offshore oil drilling as well as other energy options.

    “I am also heartened that the secretary is holding one of the Department of Interior’s regional conferences in Alaska to discuss this issue further. This will give Alaskans an opportunity to weigh in on a comprehensive national energy plan that includes oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

    “In Alaska, Secretary Salazar will be able to see and hear from Alaskans about the incredible renewable and non-renewable energy resources in our state which we can use to help Alaska and the country solve the energy crisis we face.”

    It is a good sign that Sen. Begich is differentiating himself from the Palin-Murkowski-Young lockstep on AK energy prospects.

  9. Coyoteville says:


    What bmaz says above at #17 is absolutely true. Lotus and NMC (both attorneys) have done a great job. I’ve been a regular lurker there ever since I found it (w/ EW’s help).

    I guess that a few months in prison already have softened Scrugg’s prior arrogance and non-cooperation.

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