Friday, March 04, 2011

Salazar Appears Before House Natural Resources Committee

Interior Secretary Salazar appeared before the Natural Resources Committee and tried to blow some smoke up the rears of the members present.

During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Department of the Interior’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposal, Rep. John Fleming asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the Department’s refusal to issue new offshore drilling permits.
Secretary Salazar responded, “When you look at the production within the Gulf of Mexico, even within the midst of the national crisis of the Deepwater Horizon, the production has remained at an all time high and we expect that it will continue as we bring new production online.”

However, data on the actual production and forecasted production in the Gulf of Mexico collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration located within the Department of Energy tells a drastically different story. According to the EIA, production in the Gulf has declined by nearly 300,000 barrels a day since last April.

As the government's own data shows on the graph above, Secretary Salazar is either living in an alternate universe or he is deliberately lying before members of Congress. You can come to your own conclusion.

Salazar is under a district judge's order to rule on five pending permit applications by the middle of March. The agency has continued to drag its feet and none have been issued since October 2010. It would appear that one permit was given the green light to was a public relations move to deflect some of the criticism for Salazar's job killing, energy production inhibiting policy decisions. He stated he plans to dispute the order.

At issue is District Court Judge Martin Feldman's mid-February ruling that the government has 30 days to decide whether to grant those five deep-water exploration permits, in response to a challenge by drilling contractor Ensco, whose rigs would be used for the work.

Just before Salazar testified before the committee, his department announced that one drilling permit was issued to Noble Energy - not for a new well but for a bypass well so that drilling could continue at the current site.

The federal government has already acted on one of the permits at issue in the case -- a bid by Noble Energy to drill a bypass well in its Santiago prospect about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approved that permit on Monday, making it the first of its kind to get the green light since the Obama administration lifted its five-month moratorium on some deep-water exploration last October.

Salazar doesn't think that Judge Feldman has the jurisdiction to make demands on his job performance. Salazar believes he is master of the energy production universe with unfettered control on his destruction of the industry for his far left political ideological agenda.

There is absolutely no honest observer that believes the oil and natural gas drilling industry is at record levels or has confidence in this administration to proceed in a manner that will allow the Gulf coast to approach necessary levels of recovery and meet larger amounts of our country's energy needs.

The industry’s pessimism also is reflected in drilling budgets, many of which have steered away from the Gulf this year because of the uncertainty surrounding permitting. It’s not clear how many companies are willing to reallocate capital now rather than simply waiting until next year.

The turmoil in the Middle East is not going away. It should serve as a wake-up call to those making crucial decisions about our country's energy policy - and the glaring fact that we have no real energy policy - that all forms of energy production is essential for our national security.

Drill here, drill now.

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