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."