Minerals Management Service to undergo reform?

Salazar claims he will solve problems by dividing the oil leasing/revenue collecting agency-

It’s an obscure agency in the Dept of Interior to some, but not to the oil companies or the federal treasury. It collects more money than any federal agency except the IRS. It has been the seat of a number a scandals in recent years from undercollecting royalities, lax safety and environmental oversight, and giving out oil and gas leases for sex from oil lobbyists.

When Salazar took office he said these days were over.  He hopes splitting the environmental oversight and safety part of the agency from the leasing and royalty collection will help.

In other news, public support for more offshore drilling is collapsing in the polls. So is perception that Obama is doing a good job handling the situation.

Here’s a story from the Washington Post. Minerals Management Service to undergo radical overhaul. By Juliet Eilperin and Ed O’Keefe:

Interior Chief Slams Oil and Gas Groups’ ‘Election-Year Politics’

Salazar condemns oil industry lies about leasing on public lands-

Well good for the Secretary of Interior!

I don’t watch much television, but when I do, I’m amazed at the number of ads energy companies are producing. I’d bet 90% of the population believes that “BP” stands for beyond petroleum, not the company’s actual name — British Petroleum.

Interior Chief Slams Oil and Gas Groups’ ‘Election-Year Politics’.  By Noelle Straub. Greenwire in the New York Times.
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For a great blog on the future of energy, visit the Oil Drum.

I am adding it to my blogroll. RM

Posted in B.L.M., oil and gas, public lands, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , . Comments Off on Interior Chief Slams Oil and Gas Groups’ ‘Election-Year Politics’

Salazar continues Gale Norton’s “no more Wilderness” policy

New York Times editorial complains-

No ‘No More Wilderness’. New York Times editorial

Speaking of Utah specifically. Despite a huge base of roadless country, Utah has made a small contribution to the National Wilderness Preservation System compared to other Western States, especially given the high percentage of state being U.S. public lands.  Utah could stand another roadless area inventory, coupled with Wilderness recommendations, but the state delegation has not supported any Wilderness bills for the state in Congress except for one recent unique designation of a Great Basin mountain range in order to block access to disliked proposed nuclear waste disposal facility on the Skull Valley Indian Reservation.

Salazar gives a mixed decision on reanalysis of tracts wrecked in gas auction by Tim DeChristopher

Eight tracts will not be auctioned; 52 studied more, 17 given up to oil and gas interests-

Tim DeChristopher’s brave disruption of the December 2008 oil and gas lease auction in Utah has resulted in a new decision by the new Secretary of Interior. Politicians and groups are characterizing it in differing fashions according to their political party and interest.

I’d call the decision mixed.

Interior boss says no to drilling on 8 Utah parcels. Auction fallout » Salazar vows to develop oil, gas ‘the right way.’ By Patty Henetz And Thomas Burr. The Salt Lake Tribune

Update. LA Times story on Salazar’s decision. Few Bush-era energy leases are valid, report finds. By Nicholas Riccardi

Environmentalists baffled by Obama’s [legal] strategy

One of the easiest ways to get rid of bad policies is ignored by the new Administration-

Passing new laws is hard, and it is controversial. Issuing executive orders is less so, but still difficult. Settling suits against laws and regulations you don’t really support anyway is below the radar screen.

It hard for conservationists to understand.

Environmentalists baffled by Obama’s strategy. By Jim Tankersley. LA Times.

With almost none of Obama’s Interior nominees confirmed and in office, Harry Reid decides to take on a Republican filibuster so to seat Salazar’s number two position

Despite our complaints about Salazar’s views, the GOP has taken unprecedented steps to oppose Salazar’s repeal of Bush’s policies for opposite reasons-

I can’t think of any other Administration where the minority party has tried so hard and been so successful preventing a new President from filling the positions in a government department. Rather than build allies among conservation groups to help in these battles, however, Salazar has pursued his own anti-conservation policies. Time to rethink?

If Reid is successful blocking the filibuster, an irony will be to make Obama even more reliant on his often troublesome views. High noon in Salazar showdown. A key Senate vote on his top aide at Interior is set for today amid high partisan tensions. By Michael Riley. The Denver Post

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Update. Reid fails to overcome Republican filibuster by 3 votes. Sixty votes are needed to invoke closure — kill a filibuster. New York Times. The vote was 57-39.

Hayes is said to be an environmental lawyer, but there seems to be a question as to how much he worked to protect it versus get corporate lobbyists access in his position during the Clinton Administration.

Will Salazar be as tough on law breaking off-road rally as on Tim De Christopher?

This is the critical test of whether only pro-environment conscientious objection is prosecuted-

Today about 1000 ATV and 4 x 4 owners are going to deliberately violate the law and charge up the Paria River’s bed in the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. Because they have announced the event as a deliberate violation of the law, it is consciencious objection. The Secretary of Interior’s action will shows us whether only one side on conservation issues gets treated as criminals.

The Salt Lake Tribune writes today of Salazar’s “acid test.“Equal treatment”. Feds must foil OHV lawbreakers. Tribune Editorial.