Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salazar Meets With Leaders On Oil Spill Tensions

Secretary Salazar met with oil and gas executives to smooth the way to a better relationship on the request of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). She removed her hold on an Obama nominee in exchange for the meeting held Monday. Lawmakers present from both parties agreed afterward that the meeting was just more talk.

A much-anticipated meeting to smooth over tensions between Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the drilling industry appeared to falter Monday as oil and gas executives, joined by Gulf state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, described Mr. Salazar's visit to Houma, La., as all talk and little action.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, secured the meeting last week in exchange for releasing a legislative hold she had placed on President Obama's budget director nominee. She and other advocates of offshore drilling hoped Mr. Salazar's visit would be accompanied by a streamlined process for approving permits in the wake of the Obama administration's decision to lift its ban on offshore drilling, which it imposed in the aftermath of the BP PLC oil spill this year.

Michael Bromwich, director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, announced that 20 more employees have been assigned to "deal with" Gulf drilling permits and consultation with members of the industry. Mary Landrieu was having none of it. She criticized the moratorium still in place vis a vis the inexcusable backlog of permits waiting to be issued so that oil drilling rigs may work in the Gulf of Mexico. She promises to keep the pressure on the administration.

Frankly, I have little faith in Landrieu or her promises. She's a career politician with an eye on the next election. I did find it encouraging that she placed a hold on the Obama nominee until she was given the 'yes' to this meeting.

Most in the industry are convinced that Obama and his administration are convinced that they are determined to shut down the domestic oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And, with the new book out written by LA Governor Bobby Jindal, there is plenty of support available that Obama is far more interested in his own selfish best interests than that of the Gulf coast or the oil and natural gas industry.

While some drilling continues in the Gulf of Mexico, the future is in the deep water drilling. Since June, when new rules for shallow wells went into place, regulators have approved 16 new permits, officials said. Shallow water wells are those drilled in waters up to 500 feet deep.

Still, regulators have not approved a single new deepwater well, which are drilled in waters deeper than 500 feet. The most promising oil reserves in the Gulf are in deeper waters.

The administration is announcing new wind farms going up along the Atlantic coast thanks to taxpayer subsidies. Currently only 2% of our energy needs are met with wind and solar power. And, it is considerably more expensive than oil, natural gas or coal. Let the free market decide. Allow all energy sources to flourish and allow nation's energy independence.

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