Month 6, Day 13: I’m Told That Fish Rot From The Head.

Crooks and Liars had a very depressing piece about our Interior Secretary and his continued enabling of a Bush-style culture of corruption. Grrrrrr.

Their piece links to Rolling Stone magazine, which is the original source. I haven’t read the full RS piece yet, because I’ve been dealing with the benefit concert (which went fabulously, by the way).

Anyway, this goes off to the President tomorrow.

Dear President Obama,

When you announced a “moratorium” on offshore drilling, I was delighted. But as the details emerged, it began to look less and less like a really robust piece of environmental policy. What we need is a way to prevent future disasters; what we get is a halt of exploratory drilling at thirty-three deepwater rigs. Total number of deepwater rigs in the Gulf of Mexico? Five hundred and ninety-one. Total offshore drilling rigs? Over fifty-one hundred. Thirty-three is a very small number — less than one percent. It should be the job of the Interior Secretary to regulate and control the oil industry, but Secretary Salazar is on record that the moratorium won’t affect production.

The culture of corruption at the Minerals Management Service has continued; Secretary Salazar has long been an advocate of offshore drilling (going back to his time as a senator), and he is abusing his position in multiple ways. The BP Atlantis rig is located in waters 2,000 feet deeper than the Deepwater Horizon, only 150 miles from the Louisiana coastline. Congressional documents reveal that the Atlantis lacks required engineering certification for almost every one of its underwater components; British Petroleum’s own internal documents suggest that this failure of certification could lead to “catastrophic” errors. Why has the Atlantis not been shut down? Why has the MMS failed to address the safety risks of this platform since the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe?

According to the executive director of PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), workers in many agencies inside the Department of the Interior (not just the Minerals Management Service) describe the culture as the “third Bush term.” The same managers are implementing the same policies. Is that the environmental legacy we need from the Obama Administration?

I recognize that much of this is not, strictly speaking, your fault. President Bush and his cronies have planted many of their ideological allies in key bureaucratic positions throughout the government, and it is difficult to root these people out and to transform the bureaucratic culture appropriately. But it is increasingly clear that Ken Salazar isn’t interested in effecting this transformation at all.

At a time when we urgently need a genuine climate and energy policy that builds the infrastructure of the future, the last thing we need is a relentless advocate of big oil, a proponent of offshore drilling, an ethically challenged enabler of corruption. Ken Salazar needs to go, and the Minerals Management Service needs to be dissolved.

This is no time or place for compromise.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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