Interior Secretary Salazar – Mixed Messages OCS Oil Drilling

Over the last 24 hours, new Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar has given decidedly mixed messages on the issue of whether the Obama administration was going to allow OCS drilling in areas until recently protected by the Congressional moratorium. As a former journalist, I know what is included in an article depends on what the writer thinks is important, what they think their readership wants to know, and finally, where on the political spectrum their publication falls. Below are excerpts from four articles by four different reporters at four different publications who either attended a press briefing at the White House or were granted individual interviews with the Secretary. This is a perfect example of why we must proceed with voicing our concerns and not step back to see what happens over the next few months while things are “reviewed”.

STEPHEN POWER, The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2009

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar indicated Tuesday that the Obama Administration could be open to expanded offshore drilling…

Salazar inherited a Bush Administration plan that would open tracts off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts where drilling had previously been prohibited. Environmental groups want the Obama administration to re-impose a ban on expanded offshore drilling that President George W. Bush lifted last year.

Asked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal whether President Barack Obama might try to reinstate the ban, Salazar paused 18 seconds before saying: “I don’t know.”

Asked about the Bush administration’s proposal to open certain areas of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling and whether he saw any opportunities for expanded development of the nation’s offshore areas, Salazar said: “When you look at the whole [outer continental shelf], it’s a huge potential. And it has to be done carefully. We don’t want to ruin the beaches of Florida and the coastlines of other places that are sensitive.”

“On the other hand, there are places where it may be appropriate for us to have reconnaissance and exploration and even development. Those are questions that we are exploring and hopefully over the months ahead we’ll have answers to these questions,” he said.

Tom Doggett WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters)

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Wednesday the Obama administration was open to oil drilling in new offshore areas as part of a comprehensive plan to overhaul U.S. energy policy. But he would not specify which tracts could be opened to energy exploration.

DINA CAPPIELLO and H. JOSEF HEBERT, WASHINGTON (AP) Jan. 28

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday the expansion of offshore oil drilling should be worked out with Congress as part of a broad energy blueprint and not independent action by his department. In an interview with The Associated Press, Salazar indicated the drilling plan the Bush administration left on his desk likely will be scrapped. It would open the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts for drilling. Salazar declined to single out any waters considered automatically off limits to oil exploration.

Salazar, who resigned as Colorado senator to join President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, said he wants to work closely with Congress on “a plan that makes sense” for offshore oil and gas development, but that any expansion of drilling should be part of a comprehensive energy plan.

Four days before leaving office, officials in the Bush administration issued a draft of a five-year drilling plan that calls for energy leases to be made available in both the Atlantic and Pacific waters, including vast areas that until recently had been off limits for a quarter century.

But Salazar indicated that plan is all but dead.

Petroleumworld.com, Jan 29, 2009

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Wednesday warned fellow Democrats in Congress that President Barack Obama sees Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas drilling as part of a comprehensive energy plan and not to tie the president’s hands by reinstituting its own moratorium, even a partial one, on offshore OCS exploration.

“We ought to deal with the OCS in a comprehensive way, that would make the most sense for the country,” Salazar said. “Let’s look at a comprehensive plan, and let’s see how the OCS fits in it.”

The secretary spoke during a briefing with reporters at DOI headquarters. Salazar has pledged to review the outgoing Bush administration’s expanded five-year leasing plan for OCS areas where drilling is currently allowed, including proposed lease sales off the northern California coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic.

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