Are DOJ and DOI Making A Competent Legal Effort On Gulf Moratorium?

Exactly one week ago, in a post entitled Judicial Ethics in the Gulf: Judge Feldman’s Conflicts and DOJ Malpractice, I related the patently obvious, and disqualifying, statutory ethical conflicts on the part of the Federal judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Martin Feldman, who made the curious and shocking decision to stay enforcement of the Obama Administration’s six month deepwater moratorium. As I pointed out, it legally was somewhat astounding the government did not raise Feldman’s conflict at any opportunity:

With this knowledge in the public sphere at least substantially by the night after Feldman’s decision, the government nevertheless did not even mention it as a ground in their attempt to stay Feldman’s ruling at the district court level when they filed their motion to stay at the district court level late the following day. That motion was in front of Feldman himself, so maybe you could rationalize the government not raising it at that point (although I would have posed the motion to stay to the chief judge for the district and included the conflict as grounds for relief were it me).

Having predictably received no relief in their lame request for stay from Feldman, the judge who had just hammered them (not surprising), the government put their tails between their legs and made preparations to seek a stay from the 5th Circuit. Surely the government would forcefully argue the glaringly obvious egregious appearance of both conflict and lack of impartiality once they were free of Feldman and in the Fifth Circuit, right? No, no they didn’t.

When the government filed their motion for stay in the 5th Circuit mid to late day Friday June 25, a full three days after getting hammered by oiled up Judge Feldman, and after Feldman’s most recent 2009 financial disclosure had even started being released to the general public (as evidenced by the literally damning piece on it Rachel Maddow did Friday night), the government STILL did not avail themselves of the glaringly obvious argument of conflict by Feldman. Nary a peep from the fine lawyers at the DOJ on one of the most stunningly obvious arguments of judicial bias in recent memory.

Another week later, and there STILL is no peep from the government on an issue that would be critical to reinstating their moratorium if they really wanted to. But while the government lawyers refuse to zealously litigate the position they claim to support, intervenors represented a by law school clinic professor and two lawyers for environmental groups have done the work the government should have done. On Friday June 2, Defendant-Intervenors filed a Motion to Disqualify Feldman in the district trial court and properly noticed the record at the 5th Circuit.

From the D-I Motion to Disqualify:

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455, Defendant-Intervenors Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Florida Wildlife Federation, Center for Biological Diversity, and Natural Resources Defense Council (collectively “Defenders”) respectfully move this Court to disqualify itself from proceedings in this case.

As detailed more fully in Defenders’ memorandum in support of this motion, the Court must recuse itself for two distinct and independent reasons. First, the Court’s financial holdings in various companies involved in oil and gas drilling raise in an objective mind a reasonable question concerning the Court’s impartiality in these proceedings, triggering the obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) for the court to disqualify itself. This obligation is not mitigated by the Court’s sale of some of this stock prior to the issuance of the preliminary injunction on June 22, 2010 since, prior to that time the Court must have formed substantive opinions about the case from both the briefs filed by the parties and the hearing on June 21. The Court owns and/or recently has owned an interest in several companies that comprise part of the network that supports the Gulf’s oil and gas industry. To rule that the moratorium would injure irreparably a network in which the Court was financially invested creates an impermissible appearance of partiality in the mind of a reasonable observer, which is enough to trigger the duty to recuse under § 455(a).

So, hats off to attorney Catherine Wannamaker and her clients the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, David Guest of Earthjustice for Florida Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club and Professor Adam Babich of Tulane Law School’s Environmental Law Center also for the Sierra Club. These intrepid intervenors are doing the job the government lawyers should be doing, but curiously refuse to do.

But this is not the only instance of highly suspect lawyering by the DOJ and DOI attorneys handling the Hornbeck litigation on the six month moratorium. There is also the government’s failure to meaningfully address the critical case Feldman used to craft his contorted ruling. As I said a week ago:

Furthermore, the legal eagles at the DOJ and DOI failed to effectively address and contradict Judge Feldman’s reliance on the case of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association V. State Farm Insurance, 463 U. S. 29 (1983), which Feldman contorted and misapplied to wrongfully reach his result.

Here is Feldman’s opinion/order staying the Administration’s six month moratorium. Here is the decision in Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association v. State Farm that Feldman used to contort the playing field in the direction he wanted. A reading of Feldman’s decision coupled with a close reading of State Farm reveals the clear distinction and contrast between the two situations and why the State Farm decision does not operate in the fashion Feldman claims.

State Farm is remarkably ill applied by Feldman. First off, and most obviously, State Farm reaffirms the proper standard of review, namely that any competent evidence in the agency record mandates upholding the agency determination (in this case the moratorium). Feldman, of course, did a complete end run of this standard. The government, in their respective motions for stay at the district and 5th Circuit, did at least make a halfhearted argument on Feldman violating the standard of review, although they completely fail to use his own linchpin State Farm case against him as would have been appropriate under the circumstances.

Beyond that though, and much more significantly, State Farm delves into a situation where the agency in question there (NHTSA) completely rescinded a rule deemed by the court to be in the interest of protecting the public, and did so without an arguable basis for completely removing the protection to the public. Put more plainly, the government agency in the State Farm situation was harming the public with no viable explanation for the action.

The Court in State Farm found such action – harming the public sector the agency was tasked with protecting instead of helping it – to be directly contrary to the mission and task of the that agency. That logic and framing certainly does NOT apply in the least to the Interior Department’s action in the instant case to impose a six month moratorium where it is crystal clear that the regulatory structure and practices of the oil and gas extraction industry are incapable of protecting the public and environmental welfare. Not to mention that the Department has asserted that their entire array of resources is being consumed entirely by the BP Macondo leak and it is an emergency scenario they are operating under.

In the instant case, Interior was acting exactly within their mission and task to protect the public in relation to mineral exploration and removal, and was not rescinding a rule to protect the public, it enacting a rule – a temporary delay – in order to immediately protect the environment and public, and determine how to better protect the public in the future. There is simply no way to read State Farm as being consistent with the way Feldman applied it to the instant case; in fact a proper scrutiny of State Farm demonstrates that it quite arguable actually supports the government’s agency decision on the moratorium.

But if you review the subsequent motions by the government by and through their attorneys at the DOJ and DOI linked above (and here and here for convenience), they barely address the State Farm decision Feldman used to leverage his entire decision. It is almost beyond belief that a competent lawyer truly zealously and appropriately fighting to restore the moratorium would fail to attack Feldman’s use and abuse of State Farm.

So, if the Obama Administration and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar truly believe in the propriety of their six month moratorium, and are dedicated to fighting through appeal for it, why are their lawyers not acting like it? Are they really not trying because they really don’t care, or are they just sloppy and incompetent? It is one or the other.

Oh, and the 5th Circuit is moving things right along. The 5th Circuit told the Hornbeck and related moratorium challengers to file briefs on the stay issue by Friday July 2. Hornbeck filed a brief, as did, quite astoundingly, Senator Mary Landrieu against the government and in favor of oil companies. The government must reply by July 6, if it wishes. The Court set a one-hour hearing for the afternoon of July 8, in New Orleans and said no delays will be granted.

  1. victoria2dc says:

    So, if the Obama Administration and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar truly believe in the propriety of their six month moratorium, and are dedicated to fighting through appeal for it, why are their lawyers not acting like it? Are they really not trying because they really don’t care, or are they just sloppy and incompetent? It is one or the other.

    Thanks for keeping up with this. After reading your original post, bmaz’s DOJ post from yesterday and then adding this to their pile of @#$%, I also don’t really know what to think. I am truly amazed at how much they are NOT doing and why nobody is taking them to task.

    Can environmental groups or the ACLU sue the White House on behalf of the various industries in the Gulf or on behalf of the American people who are aware enough to know what the WH is doing? I have never been one to see the truth and just let it go. What can we do?

    Salazar was my senator before Obama made the mistake of putting him at Interior. I used to push his legislative director as far as I could go without making him angry, but it was simply a waste of time. He a DINO and slow to act when he does act, which is not too often and not with much enthusiasm. Sigh…….

    Happy Monday! Keep up the good work.

  2. victoria2dc says:

    Waritorium: The Deep Water Moratorium Threatens Two Louisiana Republican Oligarchs

    While this story doesn’t have an direct bearing on the politicization of the Obama DOJ in regard to Judge Feldman, it’s worth reading so you can see what the great Republican governor of LA is doing. He should be writing the script for a movie about a very shadowy local governor and his ambitions for a run at the presidency.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      The Court in State Farm found such action – harming the public sector the agency was tasked with protecting instead of helping it – to be directly contrary to the mission and task of the that agency. That logic and framing certainly does NOT apply in the least to the Interior Department’s action in the instant case to impose a six month moratorium where it is crystal clear that the regulatory structure and practices of the oil and gas extraction industry are incapable of protecting the public and environmental welfare. Not to mention that the Department has asserted that their entire array of resources is being consumed entirely by the BP Macondo leak and it is an emergency scenario they are operating under.

      Not to mention that BP evidently had over 90% of oil industry OSHA violations, plus recent work-related fatalities.
      Not to mention BP lying on their MMS apps regarding their capacity to deal with problems.
      Not to mention that if Financial Times’ reporting is accurate, BP didn’t initially comprehend how bad this disaster was going to become — and after the amount of destruction from the wells that resulted in melting down that huge drilling rig… go figure how they could have assumed that anything producing that much force was going to be simple or easy.

      FWIW, that link to DailyKos is a hum-dinger.
      It certainly explains a lot of dynamics. Including, probably, Judge Feldman’s bizarre and convoluted legal loop-de-loops.

      • bmaz says:

        Well, keep in mind that the Hornbeck moratorium litigation is not about BP in any specific regard, rather about the safety and propriety of Gulf deepwater extraction projects in general.

        Also, was there a link I didn’t see?

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Yes, john in sacramento got it right: that link of victoria2dc’s @2 is worth the read IMVHO.

          As for Hornbeck, sorry to confuse!

          My point was that here we have a corporation with a huge portion of outstanding OSHA violations for its industry, in addition to evidence that it lied to MMS. And we also have people in the oil business (Matthew Simmons) pointing out that the force of the explosion and the complete meltdown of that huge rig signified something ‘off the charts’ was happening. So we have plenty of evidence that BP can’t be trusted to make key decisions about the GoM or much else at this point.

          And BTW, I find it almost comic that since BP’s reputation is in the toilet, along comes Hornbeck to toss BP a legalistic, regulatory-gutting lifeline. Surprise, surprise, who could possibly have imagined…?

          But aside and apart from the fact that the intervenors are having to do all the heavy lifting in terms of exposing the galling fact that Judge Feldman is compromised and has sullied the federal bench with his myopic assumption that selling a few shares would somehow allow him to avoid a conflict of interest, I’m going to argue that using State Farm was knuckleheaded.

          Apart from the fact that DoJ should have delivered some whupass to a federal judge who sullied the bench with his conflicts of interest, the template that he is using to determine whether an agency can protect the public interest is not adequate for our current situation where we have pollutants entering the GoM and damaging entire ecosystems.

          Judge Feldman seems to claim that an agency does – or doesn’t – have authority to protect the public interest based on whether they have ample evidence to support their decisions.

          Now, with NHTSA and State Farm, you are impacting a system (the road system) but you are still dealing with discrete actors: cars, or vehicle trips, or traffic data. Those are all discrete events.

          In other words, my car is not going to turn into a truck simply by moving down a roadway.

          But with pollutants, we’re dealing with insidious chemical combinations that we can’t predict, that have long term consequences we cannot foresee. However, we already have evidence of linkages between petrochemical pollution and DNA disruptions, including cancers.

          My point is that there’s a factor here that — apart from being compromised by his fiscal beliefs — the judge appears to be incapable of thinking through: State Farm did not require factoring in the risk of mutation: a car does not become a truck, nor does it become a runaway airplane. It is a discrete ‘thing’ and you can make rules about who can, should use a car. It’s not going to combine with a median and become something else. It’s not going to reproduce.

          Birds do it.
          Bees do it.
          Cars…. they just don’t do ‘it’, if you follow my point.
          Never have; never will.

          But oil… in seawater… petrochemicals are molecules. They break apart in ways that are predictable, but also…. not so predictable. Making regulations about the risks of petrochemical pollutants are far, far more serious and grim for entire populations (pelican populations, human populations, dolphin populations…) than making decisions about highway traffic.

          I’m saying: WTF?!!!

          We have a federal judge who cannot distinguish between highway data, transportation regulations, and things that are fundamentally biochemical!!

          For things that are biological, that contain chemical processes, you should not be using a highway transportion ‘model’ as your template for decision making — leaving aside the fact that the judge made codswallop of his bad analogy.

          He is not even mistaking apples for oranges(!).

          It’s as if he is claiming that you can regulate biological and chemical processes in the identical fashion that you can use to regulate car trips or truck traffic.

          Since when did a truck exchange atoms with a car to become a catruck?

          Since when did a truck have it’s engine realigned and recomposed because the ‘oil’ that was put into its engine was so fookin’ toxic that it ‘reorganized’ its’ equivilent of ‘DNA’ – its engine?

          Can’t happen.
          Doesn’t happen.
          Won’t happen.

          The nature of the information, the nature of the data that Judge Feldman uses to claim that a moratorium is not ‘legal’ is complete, utter, monstrous hockum.

          Since when did NHTSA’s decisions prevent anyone from breathing benzene? They aren’t designed to account for benzene. They’re focused on discrete pieces of roadway, discrete cars, self-contained vehicles. Road designs, speeds, signage.

          That has no real correlation to the issues that are raised by benzene vapors, or by chemical mutations, nor by the destruction of ecosystems or species.

          We are basically having a federal judge tell us that what an agency can do to regulate highway speeds is going to limit the way a completely different agency regulates the risks of catastrophic environmental and public health risks.

          Apart from being furious that the DoJ didn’t smack Judge Feldman with a whopper of a conflict of interest claim, what I wish they would do — or the intervenors would do — is smack the likes of Hornbeck into the 21st century by calling bullshit on their self-deceptions and their assumptions that ‘money’ is the primary criteria for any legal decision.

          People do get cancer from driving too fast on the highway.
          There are plenty of risks from speeding, but DNA disruptions is not among them.
          People do not break out in rashes because of commercial truck traffic.

          A ‘road’ is a discrete entity.
          An ocean is not.

          I’m ranting, but what bugs me most about this whole mess is that anyone — from a federal judge, to DoJ, to the whole pack of state, federal, and local officials are allowing the fundamental ‘frame’ that decision-making that is relevant for highway traffic can be used as a template for biological and chemical pollution on a scale probably not seen in human history (except nuclear weapons testing).

          This is simply lunacy.

          No wonder we’re screwed.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:


          People do **not** get cancer from driving too fast on the highway.
          There are plenty of risks from speeding, but DNA disruptions is not among them.
          People do not break out in rashes because of commercial truck traffic.

          A ‘road’ is a discrete entity.
          An ocean is not.

  3. jimjr says:

    The DOJ should also be simultaneously filing a judicial misconduct complaint to the 5th Circuit judicial council, which recently suspended a New Orleans federal judge for much less egregious conduct.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, yes, maybe. It is truly astounding that they have done …. absolutely nothing, isn’t it? I mean, seriously, the DOJ and DOI teamed together is not some weak ass local solo practitioner that cannot afford to rile the local federal judiciary or anything. They, of any party litigant imaginable, have the weight and gravitas to make the argument win, lose or draw. And this is so fucking obvious that there is simply no way any party, much less the freaking federal government, could be chastised, slighted or retaliated against for having done so. Maybe I am missing something; but I don’t think so and I have posited some questions around and cannot even get a response, not even one saying there is a plan and strong ground for it. Nothing but crickets. Hey, I am just one cranky old prick, but to me the lawyering conduct of the government is way beyond sloppy and into the territory that can only be explained by it being by design. And if that is their design, they have been lying through their teeth to the public and the media, all of whom have gobbled it up and are accepting it. I don’t get it.

    • HardheadedLiberal says:

      Feldman’s reported behavior was certainly egregious, but the direct personal financial misbehavior that got Judge Porteus suspended was much more serious under the professional standards that have prevailed throughout the 40 years I have been practicing law.

      Judge Porteus almost certainly will be impeached and removed if he does not resign.

      What Feldman reportedly did certainly qualifies for impeachment and removal in my own professional opinion, but as “misconduct in office” it is a much murkier case than Porteus’ accepting “gifts.”

      Not a close question, on the other hand, on the merits of the recusal issue, in my view. Feldman should certainly have recused himself, particularly after he reportedly discovered he owned Exxon-Mobil stock that he felt compelled to sell before he issued his ruling.

      • bmaz says:

        Yep, I pretty much agree with that. He needed to recuse and did not. It is grounds for a smack down, but not impeachment.

  4. Mary says:

    Nice job – bmaz, Ms. Wannamaker et al, the kos waritorium link – just nice work, all around, well, all around with one exception – the guys who are actually getting paid for and are charged with the public duty to proffer some nice work.

  5. fatster says:

    Another great post, bmaz. In the Gulf they’re using the dispersant Corexit as camo for the oil and this particular judge as camo for Big Oil.

  6. Jim White says:

    If I had a few drinks under my belt, I’d start theorizing about the entire Obama administration governing as if it is being held hostage…

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If it’s being held hostage by Republican burrowers, Team Obama long ago developed Stockholm Syndrome. Pathetic doesn’t quite capture their agreement with the interests of corporate America and against those of the general public.

      As bmaz said above, this is a Team Obama decision; the maneuvering is not solely a function of recommendations by GOP burrowers.

  7. Maxcrat says:

    It may be that the original moratorium decision, while a good one, was made pretty hastily and without fully analyzing the impacts on the region, including on jobs. Then when the full-tilt blowback from local voices tuned up, the thinking went “let’s not push too hard to win the moratorium challenge. We can always argue that “well, we tried and were overruled” and get a lot of these people back on a payroll.

      • cregan says:

        This is the only logical explanation to me, other than simple incompetence.

        They simply want to go through the motions to appear to be doing something, when in reality, they are doing nothing.

  8. boltbrain says:

    Maybe this is completely out my ass, but I read the order by Judge Feldman pretty narrowly, in the sense that it depended on the government moratorium being inadequate or insufficient because, according to Judge Feldman, it failed to articulate the basis for it being ordered, including failing to show how the perceived problem tied in with any given goal of the regulatory authority.

    We know the government directed another moratorium after Judge Feldman gave that order, and we know that subsequent directive at least attempts to fill those two gaps. So not only is that the directive in place now, and not only does it address the two things Judge Feldman saw as lacking, but the only order that Judge Feldman has granted bears on that first directive, not the one that is now in place.

    Perhaps someone could explain why this situation does not make the first order from Judge Feldman moot, because if it is moot, that would go a long way to explaining why the government is acting like this appeal is no big deal.

  9. bobschacht says:

    We’re seeing this sort of thing from so many agencies on all kinds of things that I wonder how much the following factors are influencing these events:
    * The Obama administration only gets to appoint the upper level “political” appointments in each agency; most of the working personnel were hired by the Bush II administration.
    * Of the political appointments, the Senate has held up a very large number, by secret holds and the like. I don’t know what the percentage is, but from what I hear, the Obama administration has been able to get maybe half of its appointees approved, leaving many positions of responsibility in the hands of “acting” managers.
    * The Obama administration is less than two years old, and the managers that it has been able to get approved and in place is still become familiar with their new staff, and is still learning the ropes.
    * In most agencies, Obama-appointed managers have not yet had the opportunity for annual performance review of their employees, who are mostly civil service employees who are not easily fired.
    * In most agencies, budgets have been cut, leaving agencies poorly equipped and funded to do their jobs, even if they had a competent workforce.

    I also remember that during the past 8 years we were governed by people who decided that government was the problem, not the solution, and that malfeasance was almost government policy.

    This has been complicated by Obama’s desire to govern from the Center, which means that you don’t automatically fire everyone when you take office.

    So, I wonder how much of this incompetence is institutional, that will take years to change?

    Bob in AZ

    • bmaz says:

      No, the pleadings are personally signed by attorneys at DOJ Main directly answering to Ignacia Moreno (who is also undersigned), the Obama picked Assistant Attorney General for Environmental Affairs. There is no basis whatsoever for trying to put this off on stay behinds or burrowers.

      • bobschacht says:

        To what extent were those Obama appointees who signed off on the documents dependent on their staff for the substance of the pleadings?

        Bob in AZ

        • bmaz says:

          It is being run straight from White House and the office of Ignacia Moreno according to every ounce of information I have seen and heard.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      So, I wonder how much of this incompetence is institutional, that will take years to change?

      I’ll go for ‘at least 80%.’
      Which, I realize, is terribly unfair to good, committed employees.

      You make really great points in this comment.
      Too bad it doesn’t seem possible to nail down your observations with some data; a few years back, I started looking into what percentage of the US gov’t employees had become contractors (since 2000), and trying to track the information with budgets was simply more work than I had time/energy to take on without making it a major project in my life.

      However, it is now obvious that in some agencies (including DoD) employees were ‘contractors’ without deep ties or loyalty to their divisions or agencies, and I believe that is also a factor in what we are seeing: basically, the breakdown of social ‘glue’.

      Nepotism sucks.
      Except that if your nephew screws up, you can really lean on him to clean up his act. You can bring a lot of social pressure to bear to get someone to shape up.
      A ‘contractor’, not so much.

  10. bmaz says:

    Um, no, the DOI indicated it would be issuing a new moratorium but, as far as I know, they have not done so. So, contrary to your statement, there is no such new order in place addressing anything, much less Feldman’s bullshit. Unless I have missed something, your whole premise is flat wrong.

    And, by the way, Feldman was wrong that there was no evidence in the record to support the agency decision as I specifically explained in previous posts linked to. You are mischaracterizing the standard of review and power Feldman was supposed to hold. If there was one shred of evidence in the DOI record to support its ordered moratorium, Feldman was obligated to uphold it. There was a hell of a lot of evidence to support the agency order in the record. Feldman just took it upon himself to blithely discard it, which was not legally within his discretion to do.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exactly. Moreover, he should never have been allowed to rule on the case in the first place. He should have recused himself and should be sanctioned by teh judiciary for failing to have done so. Now that his investment interests and practices are in the public record, he should not be allowed to rule further on this case.

      • fatster says:

        It is staggering to realize how much has been swept “off the table” over the past few years. Let us hope the legal challenges to this charade are strong enough to survive.

    • boltbrain says:

      I am just going to assume this was your reply to me at response number 17. Anyway, I went and searched for what I thought might be there. There were a number of items which seem to stand for the same things; this one seems to represent them fairly:

      So what this means is first that you are right that what I thought had already happened has in fact not happened. But as of the last business day, according to Reuters anyway,the administration planned on putting out a new moratorium during this week.

      The rest of your response may be fair, as I took a lazy road on this in accepting the interpretation described on the legal reasoning from some other opinion blogs. (They could have done something like the same thing, for all I know.) But none of that actually addresses the main point, which whether this new moratorium would make the court order on the previous moratorium moot.

      Unless the new one actually does get issued, the thing that is moot is my point, or at least it is academic, which could make not entirely fair to press it now. But, if it does get issued, expect a Schwartzenegger: ull be bach.

  11. fatster says:

    I’d appreciate it, bmaz or other lawyers here, if you’d take a look at this and assess it for the rest of us. Thnx.

    Obama and Supreme Court may be on collision course
    The president’s agenda on healthcare and financial regulations sets the stage for a clash with the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.


    Futility seems to be the order of the day. If the so-called “health care reform” and luke-warm efforts to contain the banksters are this controversial, . . . !

    • bmaz says:

      Bunk. Roberts and his conservative majority, which if anything Obama has only strengthened with the appointment of Kagan, was already establishing themselves and thumbing their nose at Obama before he called them out; that may indeed have pissed Roberts and the delicate Alito off, but they were already completely ideologically motivated, Obama’s intemperance won’t really add to it. And yes the healthcare and Arizona law are headed to the Supreme court. That is not exactly news to anybody except this dimwitted LATimes/Tribune reporter.

      • fatster says:

        Thanks so much! Didn’t make much sense to even me, but ever so much better to have your informed response.

  12. foxrun says:

    And all because the ECOCIDEsalaCZAR doesn’t believe in rules and regulations. Have you even read the mission statement for the Department of the Interior, Mr. Secretary?

    “Our Mission: Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future.

    The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.”

    When the Salazar Gang is indicted, I will begin to grow some faith in this government. Until then, the inmates are running the jail.

  13. alinaustex says:

    BP is a ongoing criminal enterprise – that they are allowed to continue to operate -even proceeding with the deep well drilling off Alaska is nonsense. BP could be stopped if the DOJ /EPA decided to push on the issue of its corporate probation caused when BP killed the refinery workers in Texas . I am not a lawyer but if there is a pattern & practice to BP’s safety practices that kills its workers why is this not at least negligent homicide . For example was it not negligent that the blowout preventers dead battteries where not replaced on the Deepwater Horizon ?

  14. DWBartoo says:

    Excellent post, bmaz, keep ’em coming …

    Most excellent rant, reader, carry on.

    Much appreciation to all.


  15. ChicagoTodd says:

    The Obama Administration will continue to make gestures to appear to be fighting for the public while all the while they are no less in the pockets of corporations than the prior administrations. Until we get publicly financed elections, transnationals and big business are going to continue to run this country and generate laws in their favor.

  16. ShotoJamf says:

    Interesting to hear this morning that BP is a major supplier of petro to the Pentagon. That couldn’t possibly influence any operational (or other) decisions with respect to this catastrophe though, right? Well…um…right?

    The Washington Post reports the Pentagon is continuing to use BP as a major supplier of military fuel. The annual value of BP’s contracts with the Pentagn stand at nearly $1 billion. In fiscal 2009, BP was the Pentagon’s largest single supplier of fuel.

  17. Sixty Something says:

    Could the reason for lack of interest in getting the judge off the case be that for all practical purposes, the moratorium is effect because the oil companies are not willing to invest in resuming drilling until this law suit is settled?

    This issue was brought up in a diary by Mike Stagg at DailyKos.

  18. Propagandee says:

    It’s not like the government had a material reason for questioning the oil companies’ response plans:

    In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.

    The disparity between what BP promised in its March 24 filing with federal regulators and the amount of oil recovered since the April 20 explosion underscores what some officials and environmental groups call a misleading numbers game that has led to widespread confusion about the extent of the spill and the progress of the recovery.

  19. JohnLopresti says:

    Unrelated mostly, however portending maybe a tad about plausibly anticipated atmospherics at Scotus if the moratorium suspension related case(s) take that route anytime soon, could be the obstereperous multivoiced disagreements which were Carabell-Rapanos; the latter far from ocean, rather inland wetland, where justice Kennedy invoked the *significant nexus* test for applicability of the Commerce clause; v. interesting paper 9pp 53kb from U of VT and Assoc Wetlands Mgrs there for discussion of 5 factions in that opinion 4yrs ago; latter outfit*s site has some timely material, all inland not ocean.

  20. Leen says:

    Bmaz all
    Scientist Working With Government Says BP Restricting Access to Study Gushing Oil Well

    As the BP oil disaster enters its 77th Day we speak to a scientist leading a team of researchers trying to get access to the well to better study what is happening at the site. Dr. Ira Leifer, who’s on the federally appointed Flow Rate Technical Group, says BP is restricting his access to study the gushing oil well.[includes rush transcript]