As Interior Secretary Ken Salazar prepares a new moratorium on offshore oil drilling after the last one was shot down by a federal judge Wednesday, lost on the media seems to be Salazar's dishonesty in promoting the policy thus far. Very few have reported that he misrepresented the position of a team of experts designed to look into the costs and benefits of the moratorium.
In reality, the seven-member panel, recommended by the National Academy of Engineering, said Salazar's proposed moratorium would be "punishing the innocent." The policy "will not measurably reduce risk further," the panel explained, "and it will have a lasting impact on the nation's economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill."
Despite the panel's clear opposition to the policy, Salazar implied that they supported the moratorium. Salazar was forced to apologize after the panel publicly rebuked the Secretary's implications. "The Secretary should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct," said one member of the panel, "but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions."
Even the judge in the case, Martin Feldman, noted that Salazar's statement was "misleading" and "factually incorrect."
Michelle Malkin took it one step further. "Salazar lied," she claimed in her syndicated column on Wednesday. "Salazar committed fraud. Salazar sullied the reputations of the experts involved and abused his authority." She reiterated this sentiment in a hard-hitting Hannity segment last night.
But only a day after Salazar apologized for at the very least misrepresenting the panel's views, he once again cited the panel's support for the moratorium in arguments filed in federal court. DOI's legal team wrote that the Department's policies had been
prepared with the benefit of consultations with experts from state and federal governments, academic institutions, and industry and advocacy organizations. As a result of that wide-ranging review, and the five-week discharge of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico that preceded it, the Secretary concluded that “offshore drilling of new deepwater wells poses an unacceptable threat of serious and irreparable harm to wildlife and the marine, coastal, and human environment…”…Consequently, Secretary Salazar ordered a brief six-month moratorium on one particular segment of oil-drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf that uses similar technology to that used on the Deepwater Horizon, in order to give industry and the agencies time to assess how best to address the findings and recommendations contained in the Safety Report.
Now, that argument is technically correct. The only element of DOI's proposed policies that the panel objected to was the moratorium. The panel made sure to note that "we broadly agree with the detailed recommendations in the report." The moratorium was the only policy to which it strongly objected.
But by noting that the recommendations as a whole were created after extensive consultation with the panel, and then touting the moratorium as the primary policy recommended, the legal team implied in hardly ambiguous terms that the panel had recommended the moratorium, which it obviously did not.
The media so far have almost completely ignored Salazar's continued use of dishonest and misleading statements in an effort to promote a moratorium.
"In a sane world, Salazar’s head would roll," Malkin wrote. "In Obama world, he gets immunity." And in the world of the mainstream media, apparently, he is completely ignored.