[Guest post by DRJ]
Byron York looks at what went wrong at the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service. York says that instead of continuing a clean-up begun late in the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration focused on renewable or green energy:
“It started early in the new administration. Salazar’s first department-wide order, issued March 11, 2009, was to declare “facilitating the production, development, and delivery of renewable energy top priorities for the Department.”
Salazar chose Elizabeth Birnbaum to head the MMS in large part because of her record of environmental and green-energy advocacy. “We have changed the direction of MMS,” Salazar told the Senate last month, “by balancing its ocean energy portfolio to include offshore wind and renewable energy production.” Given the considerable size of the existing offshore oil industry, “balancing” the MMS portfolio meant putting a heavy emphasis on new offshore wind projects. “They were more into renewables offshore than they were into oil and gas,” says a GOP Senate aide who works in the area.
Birnbaum, who is so far the only Obama administration official to lose a job over the Gulf oil spill, spent an enormous amount of time working on the controversial Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. After years of regulatory wrangling, it was approved April 29 — nine days after the oil-rig explosion that set off the Gulf spill.”
Every Administration wants to sweep aside what happened before and concentrate on its agenda, but neither life nor politics works that way. Presidents and their appointees must deal with everything, not just what interests them.
President Obama has long advocated renewable energy and the BP spill has given him a second chance to convince Americans to forgo traditional energy sources like oil and gas. If so, this spill will cost our economy far more than the clean-up costs.
UPDATE — How do you fix a broken Minerals Management Service? Bring in another attorney:
“The White House announced Tuesday that Michael R. Bromwich, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Justice Department inspector general, will lead a reorganization of the Minerals Management Service. The administration plans to break the MMS into three separate entities to eliminate conflicts of interest.”