Associated Press: Salazar Announces ONSHORE Drilling Reforms
Ahead of anticipated tough questioning on Capitol Hill about the Gulf Coast spill, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday the government will tighten requirements for onshore oil and gas drilling. The new measures would not apply to oil rigs at sea.
Salazar was expected to testify Tuesday at two Senate oversight hearings investigating the BP oil spill off Louisiana’s coast. Last week, President Barack Obama said responsibility for what he described as a badly failed system extended to the federal government and its “cozy” relationship with oil companies.
Salazar, whose department includes the federal Minerals Management Service, which manages the nation’s natural gas, oil and other mineral resources, portrayed the changes at the Bureau of Land Management as a response to the BP oil spill, even though they apply only to onshore drilling for oil and natural gas.
“The BP oil spill is a stark reminder of how we must continue to push ahead with the reforms we have been working on and which we know are needed,” Salazar said.
When that gosh-darned oil rig first went up in flames almost a month ago, my very first inclination was that the cause was criminal in nature. I know full well the tendencies and aspirations of radical leftist environmental terrorist groups like the Earth Liberation Front, and figured that it could have been a response to the baby step in the right direction that we saw from the Obama administration on the issue of offshore oil drilling.
I was ridiculed for it. Not so much here, but certainly elsewhere. Others, like Rush Limbaugh, were maligned and had statements misattributed to them insofar as they purportedly suggested that the administration itself was responsible. It wasn’t. And, as far as I know, no such statements or insinuations were made.
However, it should nonetheless be pointed out that, regardless of the as-yet-unascertained cause of the oil rig explosion, this is exactly how populist authoritarianism works. First, you create a crisis (or use rhetoric to amplify a crisis already in existence), and then you use that crisis to lay the hammer down in terms of increased regulations and/or eroded personal freedom.
Here, nobody would argue that we do not have an environmental crisis down in the Gulf of Mexico. My heart goes out to the families who depend on the Gulf for work, for food, for their way of life. Similarly, though, nobody should argue that this administration will use this crisis to the fullest extent possible to institute regulatory mechanisms which, save for the photos we’re seeing of oil-soaked beaches and birds, otherwise would have been thought too onerous.
In the meantime, how far will the administration’s use of this incident as a way to rationalize clamping down on an industry they’ve already shown to be not too fond of extend? Hydraulic fracturing? Coal mines? After all, it was a similar incident which shut down any chance at expanding nuclear power in America for decades — how long will we be paying, in the form of economic and security problems which stem from our continued dependence upon foreign energy, for this administration’s opportunistic use of this particular crisis?