“When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office," the President added, "he found a Minerals and Management Services agency that had been plagued by corruption for years -- corruption... that uncovered appalling activity that took place before last year. Secretary Salazar immediately took steps to clean up that corruption. But this oil spill has made clear that more reforms are needed. For years, there’s been a far too cozy relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them."
But unfortunately, until the President is more forthcoming about the role that Mr. Salazar and other members of his administration played in permitting BP to continue its drilling operation in the Gulf - despite warnings that the operation was unsafe - any investigation into the oil spill will be greatly hindered and largely ineffective.
I am not too keen on referencing articles from an unabashedly socialist website, but I will do so today in order to make my point:
In 2009, the Obama administration intervened to support the reversal of a court order that would have halted offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has long had close ties to the industry, specifically cited BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation as one that should be allowed to go forward, according to a group involved in the court case.I have also noted previously, via the Washington Post, that "BP has lobbied the White House Council on Environmental Quality [which provides NEPA guidance for all federal agencies] to provide categorical exemptions more often. In an April 9 letter [just eleven days before the catastrophic oil spill], BP America's senior federal affairs director..., wrote to the council [which is headed by an Obama appointee] that such exemptions should be used in situations where environmental damage is likely to be "minimal or non-existent." An expansion in these waivers would help "avoid unnecessary paperwork and time delays", she wrote."
A Washington DC Appeals Court ruled in April 2009 that... a [proposed] five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling (covering 2007 to 2012) was not based on a proper review of the environmental impact of the drilling. Only days before the ruling, the Obama administration had granted BP a “categorical exclusion,” exempting it from an environmental impact study for the Deepwater Horizon project.
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group, intervened to reverse the court order, and was backed by the administration.
Kierán Suckling, executive director and founder the Center for Biological Diversity, which was involved in the original lawsuit, said that Salazar “filed a special motion asking the court to lift the injunction, and he cited the BP drilling several times by name in the request.”
In July 2009, the court ruled that drilling in both the Gulf and off the coast of Alaska could continue, on the condition that the administration conduct a study of the potential environmental risks. This study has yet to be completed.
Salazar praised the decision at the time, saying it allowed the administration to go forward with “a comprehensive energy plan,” including the BP project and a sale of leases for drilling in the Gulf.
The administration has publicly announced that no new offshore drilling grants will be issued until a review, to be completed by the end of the month. Nevertheless, at least 27 exemptions have been granted, including one for a BP exploration plan for drilling at more than 4,000 feet. Another exemption was granted to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation for an exploration plan at more than 9,000 feet. The Deepwater Horizon was drilling at about 5,000 feet...
Suckling noted that as a Senator for Colorado, Salazar, [who Obama appointed to be his Interior Secretary], supported the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, which expanded drilling. Salazar received money from BP, and when he became Interior Secretary he brought several BP officials on his staff. [Obama, however, has been the biggest recipient of BP cash].
The New York Times noted that on April 15 [six days after the White House Council on Environmental Quality received the aforementioned letter], BP filed a request for a permit to revise plans to deal with blockages and obstructions it had encountered in the well [in the Gulf]. Less than 10 minutes after the request was submitted, federal regulators approved the permit.
The New York Times' article is an interesting read that details how the administration continuously ignored and defied concerns about the Gulf of Mexico oil rig.
Conclusion: There's no way of knowing for certain if President Obama had been consulted about any of the aforementioned safety concerns, or if he signed off on any of the aforementioned waivers and permits etc., but a couple of things we do know, Ken Salazar is guilty as hell and Obama isn't being truthful.
The President is covering for Salazar and members of his own administration by blaming the previous administration for the current oil spill, when it is Mr. Salazar and the Obama administration that allowed the drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico to continue, despite warnings that it was unsafe.
Let's take another look at Obama's statement, the one he made today:
“When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office, he found a Minerals and Management Services agency that had been plagued by corruption for years -- corruption... that uncovered appalling activity that took place before last year. Secretary Salazar immediately took steps to clean up that corruption. But this oil spill has made clear that more reforms are needed. For years, there’s been a far too cozy relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them."Mr. President, it is you and Mr. Salazar, and members of your administration who need to be investigated. Thus, I ask of you, Mr. President: Will you appoint a commission to investigate yourself, and Mr. Salazar, and whoever else may be responsible for the oil-spill and the ensuing cover-up? Hmmm?
Related Posts: Oilgate? Obama and BP hiding the 'spill'?
White House Oil Spill Cover-Up?
White House Oil Spill Cover-Up - Part 2