During his State of the Union Address President Obama gave us hope that the US would finally tap its own resources to make us energy independent:
But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies
Sadly like most of the promises coming from this President this pledge came with an expiration date. Only this expiration had a short window, only five days. When President Obama sent out his budget, it showed a decline in revenue from oil land leases, meaning he planned to be more restrictive in allowing off-shore-drilling than before.
But, as Billy Mays used to say, there’s more.
On its last business day in office, the Bush administration published a proposed draft of a five-year plan to lease areas in the Atlantic and Pacific waters for oil and natural gas drilling. The plan authorized 31 energy exploration lease sales between 2010 and 2015 for tracts along the East Coast and off the coasts of Alaska and California.
Hopes that America would soon develop vast untapped energy reserves were dashed when the incoming Obama administration ordered all federal agencies and departments to halt all such pending regulations until they could be reviewed by incoming staff. Incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar extended the public comment period by 180 days.
Last April, Salazar said President Obama told him regarding the comment period “to make sure that we have an open and transparent government” and to make sure that DOI was “maximizing the opportunity for the public to give us guidance on what it is they want us to do” about expanding domestic energy exploration and development.
Well, the public provided no small amount of guidance. The Interior Department announced in September it had received more than 530,000 comments. It did not say, however, how many supported or opposed expanded drilling. It’s now four months after the close of this extended comment period, so where are the results? What happened to the open and transparent process?
Transparency right? It gets worse, they knew the results showed the comments reflected people wanted the drilling by a 2 to 1 margin. The White House didn’t get the results it wanted, so the Dept. of Interior called for more investigations.
Instead, on Jan. 6 Salazar announced plans, as the energy news service Greenwire put it, that “will require more detailed environmental reviews, more public input and less use of a provision to streamline leasing.” In other words, we were being promised more stalling, not more drilling.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s group, American Solutions, wanted to know and filed a Freedom of Information Act request on the comment period tabulation on Oct. 26, 2009. After weeks of delay and a second FOIA request, some 500 pages of e-mails were received from the DOI’s Minerals Management Service (MMS).
Gingrich’s group had heard from sources that the result of the tabulation was a 2-to-1 lopsided victory for expanded drilling. An e-mail dated Oct. 27, 2009 from MMS Director Liz Birnbaum to other senior MMS and DOI officials, including Salazar’s chief of staff, confirmed the result and discussed ways of hiding it from the American people.
The e-mail reads, in part: “We do have a preliminary tabulation of the comments, (but) it has not yet gone to the Secretary. So the Secretary can honestly say in response to any questions that he’s (sic) has not yet seen any analysis of the comments — staff is still working on it. I did, however, confirm to him the 2-1 split these guys (American Solutions) are emphasizing.”
A recent Congressional Research Service Report says that if all our energy resources are added up and converted to a barrels-of-oil equivalent, the U.S. has the largest energy reserves in the world. “Our overwhelming coal, natural gas and oil resources represent tens of trillions of dollars in wealth and millions of American jobs,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released the report last fall.
The American people support increased domestic energy development by the same numbers and with the same fervor as they opposed the nationalization of health care. Certainly we need the domestic energy. Yet in both cases the administration dismisses the will of the people.
In this case, it’s sitting not only on vast stores of energy, but on the truth about what the people want.
Just like the Obamacare debate, the President is pushing a policy which goes against the will of the American People. This time the policy is being being implemented even more secretively than Obamacare. Instead of making the country energy independent, and creating jobs during a recession, this president is chasing the Hoax of global warming and passing up an opportunity to help our economy.