Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is Ken Salazar Obama's Mike Brown?

The Washington Posts reports that environmental groups and scientists want Ken Salazar to resign or be fired. Salazar is Interior Secretary. The Department of Interior oversees the Minerals Management Service, the agency that regulates offshore drilling. From its website:
(The bureau) is the Federal agency that manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The agency also collects, accounts for and disburses an average of $13.7 billion per year in revenues from Federal offshore mineral leases and from onshore mineral leases on Federal and American Indian lands.
The MMS is reported to have ignored environmental risks when approving leases for offshore oil drilling.

Last week MMS Chief Elizabeth Birnbaum quit in the face of the BP oil spill fallout and questions about MMS procedures, including that its officers get bonuses for quickly approving leases. President Barack Obama took heat for saying he did not know the circumstances surrounding her resignation.

President Obama supported Salazar's management at a press conference two weeks ago, saying:
...from the day he took office as Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar has recognized these problems and he's worked to solve them. Oftentimes he has been slammed by the industry, suggesting that somehow these necessary reforms would impede economic growth."
The Washington Post says:
"A group of several dozen conservation groups and scientists -- including more than 30 who urged President Obama not to appoint Salazar in the first place -- are now calling for his resignation.
So, Ken Salazar may be Obama's Mike Brown as more people compare the oil spill to Hurricane Katrina. I said in an earlier post that Billy Nungesser, President of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, had called for Admiral Thad Allen's resignation, and I thought that was off the mark in Nungesser's and other Republicans' quest to make the oil spill about Obama's leadership because Obama didn't appoint Allen. He did, however, appoint Salazar. When he did, a New York Times editorial opined that Salazar was "too nice" to provide the toughness the Department of Interior needs.

Read WaPo and HuffPo.

The photo of Salazar comes from a 2009 blog post at the Colorado Springs Business Journal about Salazar's big plans for the DOI. Salazar, a Democrat, served as Senator of Colorado from 2005 to 2009.

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