Ken Salazar’s first pledge as secretary of the interior was to reform the scandal plagued Mineral Management Service (MMS), which had been found by the U.S. inspector general to have traded sex, drugs, and financial favors with oil-company executives. In a January 29, 2009 press release on the scandal, Salazar stated:
“President Obama’s and my goal is to restore the public’s trust, to enact meaningful reform…to uphold the law, and to ensure that all of us — career public servants and political appointees — do our jobs with the highest level of integrity.”
Yet just three months later, Secretary Salazar allowed the MMS to approve – with no environmental review – the BP drilling operation that exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and pouring millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster will soon be, if it is not already, the worst oil spill in American history.
BP submitted its drilling plan to the MMS on March 10, 2009. Rather than subject the plan to a detailed environmental review before approving it as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the agency declared the plan to be “categorically excluded” from environmental analysis because it posed virtually no chance of harming the environment.
As BP itself pointed out in its April 9, 2010, letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, categorical exclusions are only to be used when a project will have “minimal or nonexistent” environmental impacts.
But how could Obama have known that Ken Salazar is a gung-ho booster of offshore drilling, instead of a responsible guardian of the public interest?
Let’s blame it all on Salazar, and BP, and Halliburton, and… anybody but Obama!
In 2006, while Salazar was in the Colorado Senate, he fought to get increased oil and gas leases in the Gulf Coast region, by sponsoring the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.
Now some people are calling the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe “Obama’s Katrina,” but that characterization is completely unfair… to George W. Bush.
Because nobody claims that Bush could have prevented Hurricane Katrina, like Obama could have prevented the Deepwater Horizon disaster, by enforcing existing environmental law.