If you want to know what U.S. energy policy would look like if Republicans take the House in November, see Rep. Joe Barton, who is the ranking GOP member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Since 1990, he has received more than $1.9 million from the oil and gas industry. Barton is also a reminder of what President Obama and the administration inherited. However, that hardly gets Obama or Interior Sect. Ken Salazar off the hook, because BP's Deepwater Horizon well was given a green light on their watch.
Even before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the use of environmental waivers was a source of concern. In September 2009, the Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that the waivers were being illegally granted to onshore drilling projects. - New York Times
As for Mr. Barton's apology about his apology to BP, it wasn't exactly heartfelt -- very clear it was Republican political damage control in an election year. Because it's not like he wasn't expressing a common view of Republicans. Listen to right-wing radio and the Tea Party activists; read wing-nut blogs by people like Michelle Malkin and many others who believe that our natural resources are there for us to use at will, with the corporations like BP who do the dirty work, simply heroes of ingenuity.
The short take on Republican energy policy is sour and simple: let the birds die.
But before Democrats get too comfy in their environmental superiority, one needs to understand that Pres Obama's "drill, baby, drill" policy isn't any different from Bush-Cheney. In fact, even though Obama knew of the mess at the MMS, which was perpetrated under Pres. Bush and his Haliburton-tied friend, Dick Cheney, Interior Sect. Ken Salazar didn't do anything about it when he came in. Almost 18-months into the Obama administration we're finding that the Obama administration simply doesn't know how to manage this crisis.
The other problem with the Obama administration is that they're treating the press just like Republicans do. The Columbia Journalism Review is reporting that regardless of promises, access by the press and reporters is sill being obstructed by BP and the federal government.
No one expects Pres. Obama to know how to stop BP's blowout, because it's obvious no one does, though Matthew Simmons speaking on Dylan Ratigan's show almost a month ago suggested the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf was so catastrophic that military means should be used, like bombing the well, because the flow simply must be stopped. That's a decision that can only come from Pres. Obama, which I don't think would happen because of too many unknowable consequences. I've engaged with oil experts since the start of this environmental 9/11, but haven't found anyone that can guarantee an outcome. Beyond stopping the leak, the job of containment and cleanup is under Obama's direction and leadership, so there is no excuse for not having oil-sucking barges working overtime. The latest ABC story about the delays and screw ups on the ground are understandably infuriating for Gov. Bobby Jindal. There is no good excuse for it, and the lack of coordination and "command and control" issues land on Pres. Obama's desk. Many oil experts believe supertankers should also be utilized, with the red tape keeping this from occurring bridged immediately.
The politics of energy is playing out amidst all of this.
Rep. Joe Barton is the face and future of American energy policy, if Republicans get back in power. People need to digest that fact and think about it, because it's been proven through what happened under Bush-Cheney for eight years when MMS basically became an agency of oil cronies and incompetence, corruption and malfeasance.
However, Pres. Obama and the Democrats who are in charge down in the Gulf right now, including Interior Sect. Ken Salazar, who I believe should have been relieved of his job weeks ago, still don't have a handle on their side of this containment and cleanup. That's obvious to anyone watching this nightmare day after day.
So it's no wonder people are furious at government and Congress. There is not much to recommend any of them right now.
The sad truth is we have come to expect Republicans to be incompetent and disrespectful of government. But on the other side, Democrats are expected to be competent at running the government, and so far, Pres. Obama and his team have flunked that test.
Meanwhile, as you read this and plan your weekend, tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil continue to spew into the Gulf, with no end in sight.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst out of Washington, D.C.
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