The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Stop Dawdling, Start Drilling

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted February 10, 2010

Although we didn't need more evidence to show that the Interior Department is delaying oil and natural gas exploration in the United States, an editorial in Investor's Business Daily (IBD) yesterday confirmed it.

As reported in the newspaper and on the Big Government blog, back-to-back Freedom of Information Act requests filed by American Solutions have uncovered emails indicating that the Minerals Management Service (MMS) has withheld information showing that a majority of Americans support offshore exploration and production.

The reason: Apparently to give Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plausible deniability. As IBD reports:

"...[T]he result of the tabulation was a 2-to-1 lopsided victory for expanded drilling. An e-mail dated Oct. 27, 2009 from MMS Director Liz Birnbaum to other senior MMS and DOI officials, including Salazar's chief of staff, confirmed the result and discussed ways of hiding it from the American people.

The e-mail reads, in part: 'We do have a preliminary tabulation of the comments, (but) it has not yet gone to the Secretary. So the Secretary can honestly say in response to any questions that he's (sic) has not yet seen any analysis of the comments -- staff is still working on it. I did, however, confirm to him the 2-1 split these guys (American Solutions) are emphasizing.'"

American Solutions is calling on Sec. Salazar to fire Director Birnbaum and says the failure to allow offshore drilling a missed opportunity for out-of-work Americans:

"What makes all of this dispiriting, especially this month, is that with 15 million Americans out of work and with the President's recently submitted budget projecting trillion dollar annual deficits for the next ten years and a near tripling of the national debt by 2020, the President is throwing away a golden opportunity over the next three decades to create millions of new jobs and generate more than $270 billion in annual economic growth from new oil and gas development, including $54 billion annually in federal tax receipts that could help lower the federal deficit and the national debt."

American citizens sent about 530,000 public comments to the MMS, and the vast majority of them supported offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production, including along Virginia's coastline. It's time to stop dawdling and start drilling.