Natural Resources Committee Subpoenas Interior Department Over Drilling-Freeze Report

Erika Johnsen

4/3/2012 2:42:00 PM - Erika Johnsen

Rahm Emanuel, the newly appointed chief of staff for then-President-Elect Barack Obama, once advised: "You never want a serious crisis to go waste."

It would seem that the Obama administration has almost certainly taken that little nugget of opportunistic wisdom to heart, as they've left very few wasted crises in their shrewd wake. President Obama and his cronies have employed major boondoggles as chances to advance their liberal agenda, whether it's manufacturing (not "botching") an insidious and deadly gunwalking scandal to rustle up gun-control sentiment, or spinning the economic crisis as a justification for more government interference in and control over the private sector.

But, of course, the icing on top of the crisis-cake was the 2010 BP oil spill, which provided them with a perfect poster child for duping everyone into thinking that deepwater drilling is dirty and dangerous and big oil companies are eeeeevil. With a convenient excuse in hand, the Interior Department enacted a six-month drilling freeze, and although the ban was lifted in October 2010, permitting didn't begin again until February 2011 -- and only at a reduced rate with trumped-up regulations.

Well, here's the thing: yes, the spill was awful and costly at the time. It temporarily disrupted the regional economy and damaged local ecosystems, but it was a black swan event and the Gulf Coast has since recovered. Far more costly to the Gulf Coast (and the overall U.S. economy) in the long run is the Obama administration's consistent denial of new drilling permits, stunting the productive capacities of oil companies and thereby choking off the possibilities for economic growth and wealth creation.

Since President Obama's unremittingly stingy energy policy is one of the largest inhibitors currently arresting America's prosperity, it warms my heart that the House Natural Resources Committee isn't going to let this one go without calling the Obama administration out on their true motives and duplicitous methods. Bravo:

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) on Tuesday subpoenaed the Interior Department for documents about a 2010 report that erroneously suggested that outside engineers had endorsed a deepwater drilling freeze following the BP oil spill. ...

“President Obama pledged unprecedented transparency, and it’s regrettable that a Congressional subpoena is necessary to obtain documents pertaining to the administration’s report that recommended a six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico,” Hastings said in a statement Tuesday.

The committee, in a March 28 party-line vote, had given Hastings broad authority to subpoena the Obama administration for information about the Interior report and a separate proposal to toughen regulation of Appalachian coal mining.

The subpoena issued Tuesday seeks documents including communication among a series of Interior officials between April 26, 2010, and June 30, 2010, about the May 2010 drilling safety report that recommended a six-month drilling freeze. ...

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar subsequently apologized to the engineers about the mistaken impression the report left that they had endorsed a drilling freeze.

Yes, it was all very convenient, wasn't it? A little... too convenient.