After two years of practicing unrepentant contempt for science, jobs, law and truth, why should Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's words mean anything anymore? While President Obama promotes offshore drilling overseas thousands of miles away in Brazil, Salazar now promises to revitalize America's oil and gas industry. It's like Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian promoting himself as a lifesaving CPR specialist.
This week, Salazar announced that the administration has just approved the first deepwater oil and gas exploration plan since last spring's BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mind you: This is not a granting of permits, but a green light for Shell Offshore to seek drilling permits for three new exploratory wells off the Louisiana coast. Shell first submitted and received approval for its original exploration plan in 1985 — 26 red tape-wrapped years ago.
Salazar's make-believe resurrection of American offshore and onshore drilling began a few weeks ago, when the Interior Department Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued a deepwater drilling permit to Noble Energy for a well at the Santiago project about 70 miles off the Louisiana coast. But as Louisiana political analyst and blogger Scott McKay pointed out, "This isn't a permit for a new project. The permit issued to Noble was for a bypass of an obstruction in a well they'd already drilled before the Deepwater Horizon accident. It took 314 days to get that well back online with this administration."
Nevertheless, Obama oil czar Michael Bromwich claimed credit for the decision and insisted the project be treated as a new well. So this is how Democrats win the future: crushing industries with one hand while patting themselves on the back for saving them.
The measly Noble Energy permit approval came months after the Obama administration purportedly "lifted" its junk science-based drilling moratorium — and only after federal courts repeatedly spanked Salazar and the White House for their "determined disregard" of judicial orders and "increasingly inexcusable" action on stalled deepwater drilling projects.
More than a month ago, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ordered the Obama administration to decide within a month whether to grant a set of five permits for deepwater drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Feldman wrote that the foot-dragging administration's "time delays at issue here are unreasonable" and told the feds to act in an "expeditious" manner to "restore normalcy to the Gulf region and repair the public's faith in the administrative process."
The Obama administration's response? Last week, just under the wire on the judicial time limit, the White House won a stay from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Delay, baby, delay.
Unsurprisingly, the man who misled the public about scientists' support for his overreaching moratorium now faces more charges of data doctoring. Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter called out Salazar and Bromwich for publicly low-balling drilling application figures. While the pair informed Congress that the administration has received fewer than 50 shallow water permits and that only six to seven deepwater permits are pending, the Obama Justice Department asserted in legal filings that "there are 270 shallow water permit applications pending, and 52 deepwater permit applications pending." Which is it?
Jim Adams, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA), further skewered Salazar's book-cooking on the permit-orium: "There were 32 deepwater drilling operations already permitted when the president imposed his moratorium last year. Interior Secretary Salazar is merely allowing existing permit holders to resume their operations."
OMSA reports that there are more than 100 deepwater development plans that have yet to be cleared to even become eligible for a permit. Salazar is "treating Gulf workers like peasants, tossing us work crumb by crumb and expecting us to be grateful," Adams said. "We're tired of fighting for scraps. We want to get back to work — all of us, not just a handful of crews."
At least 13,000 jobs have been lost, according to Louisiana State University professor Joseph Mason's latest estimates. Isn't it high past time to send Salazar and his misery-inducing eco-radicals packing? How about exporting them to Brazil?
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.