White House Rejects Claim It Skewed Expert Opinion to Justify Drilling Ban

White House Rejects Claim It Skewed Expert Opinion to Justify Drilling Ban

June 11th, 2010 Posted By Pat Dollard.

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Fox News:

White House energy adviser Carol Browner on Friday rejected accusations from a panel of experts who claim the administration misrepresented their views to justify a six-month ban on offshore drilling in response to the BP oil rig disaster.

The denial came after the experts alleged that the Interior Department modified a report in late May that was used as the basis for the sweeping moratorium on existing drilling and new permits.

Though the report claimed the analysts, picked by the National Academy of Engineering, “peer reviewed” the department’s recommendations, the experts say the two paragraphs that called for the moratorium were added only after they signed off on it.

To the contrary, the experts warn that such a moratorium could not only harm the economy but make the situation in the Gulf more dangerous. The April 20 oil rig explosion occurred while the Deepwater Horizon well was being shut down — a move that is much more dangerous than continuing ongoing drilling, they said.

“A blanket moratorium is not the answer,” they wrote in a letter claiming Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar’s report “misrepresents” their position. “A blanket moratorium will have the indirect effect of harming thousands of workers and further impact state and local economies suffering from the spill.”

That’s exactly the argument that Gulf Coast lawmakers and the families of oil rig workers have been making as they fight the administration’s moratorium decision.

“We do not believe that punishing the innocent is the right thing to do. We encourage the secretary of interior to overcome emotion with logic,” the experts wrote.

But while Salazar has acknowledged that the moratorium was his decision, not theirs, Browner argued that the administration did nothing wrong.

“No one’s been deceived or misrepresented,” Browner told Fox News, defending the moratorium as a safety measure. “These experts gave their expert advice, and then a determination was made looking at all of the information, including what these experts provided — that there should be a pause, and that’s exactly what there is. There’s a pause.”

The experts claimed the draft report that they looked at called for a six-month freeze on permits for new exploratory wells 1,000 feet or deeper and a “temporary pause” on current drilling.

Somehow, that was changed to call for a six-month moratorium on permits for new wells being drilled using floating rigs and an “immediate halt” to drilling operations on 33 permitted wells.

“None of us actually reviewed the memorandum as it is in the report,” oil expert Ken Arnold told Fox News. “What was in the report at the time it was reviewed was quite a bit different in its impact to what there is now. So we wanted to distance ourselves from that recommendation.”

The experts also faxed a memo to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter to clarify that they do not believe the report justifies the moratorium.

They also said that because the floating rigs are scarce and in high demand worldwide, they will not simply sit in the Gulf idle for six months. The rigs will go to the North Sea and West Africa, possibly preventing the U.S. from being able to resume drilling for years.

They said the best and most advanced rigs will be the first to go, leaving the U.S. with the older and potentially less safe rights operating in the nation’s coastal waters.

Fox News’ William LaJeunesse contributed to this report.

Obama to Tea Partiers: See! The Gulf Disaster is What Smaller Government Will Get You

Obama to Tea Partiers: See! The Gulf Disaster is What Smaller Government Will Get You

By Doug Powers  •  June 12, 2010 11:29 AM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

When you’re stuck in quicksand, the first pointer in the survival manual is not to flail — President Obama hasn’t read that manual:

The president also implied that anti-big government types such as tea party activists were being hypocritical on the issue.

“Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying ‘do something’ are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much,” Obama said. “Some of the same people who are saying the president needs to show leadership and solve this problem are some of the same folks who, just a few months ago, were saying this guy is trying to engineer a takeover of our society through the federal government that is going to restrict our freedoms.”

Is the president saying that he didn’t react quickly because he was trying to placate Tea Party activists, thus blaming them for the slow response? Obama almost makes it sound like he let the Gulf die to make a point against those who are for smaller, more responsible government, doesn’t he?

Besides, the whole argument is bogus, desperate, and perhaps eventually counterproductive for Obama.

Dan Riehl:

Patently false. If the Tea Party mentality held sway, we’d be drilling in ANWR and closer to the shore in shallower water, so this disaster would never have happened. He’s opening the door for even more attacks over how government overreach creates problem like this.

On top of that, it was Obama who was talking about more drilling just before the rig explosion. Is he now saying that was a bad idea, he simply pushed for pure politics? Americans are smart enough to know there’s a big difference between how the government reacts in a major disaster, or a war, versus how it encroaches into their lives more and more on any given day.

‘Nuff said.

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Barack Obama’s attacks on BP hurting British pensioners

Barack Obama’s attacks on BP hurting British pensioners

June 10th, 2010

By Louise Armitstead and Myra Butterworth, UK Telegraph

 Obama’s constant attacks on BP hurt British citizens

City investors said the president was jeopardising the pensions of millions with his “excessive” criticism of the energy company following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Before the accident on April 20, BP was Britain’s biggest company, with a stock market value of £122 billion. Since then, £49 billion has been wiped off its value.

On Wednesday, BP’s share price fell a further 17.35p to 391.55p – representing a 40 per cent drop on the 655p price of a share two months ago.

Experts have said that the clean-up costs of the oil spill will run to between £10 billion and £20 billion but the biggest cost to the company is from investors dumping stock for fear of BP being further punished by the US Government.

Those fears have been heightened by Mr Obama’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric towards BP, which some investors see as an attempt to deflect criticism of his own handling of the crisis. Last month, a White House spokesman said the President’s job was to keep his “boot on the throat” of the company.

In the past week, Mr Obama, who insists on referring to BP by its former name British Petroleum, has suggested that its chief executive, Tony Hayward, would have been sacked if he worked for him.

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