Monday marks the one-year anniversary of one of the most-damaging decisions ever made by a Washington bureaucrat. On May 30, 2010, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formally imposed a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
That decision, with the full backing of President Obama, has been an economic disaster for America. It has propelled gas prices into the $4-a-gallon stratosphere, cost thousands of Gulf residents their jobs, and made the U.S. even more dependent on foreign oil.
With friends like that in Washington, Americans don’t need enemies.
The moratorium was a debacle from its very inception. When the Interior Department made the announcement, Mr. Salazar said his decision had the backing of a panel of experts that the Obama administration had assembled. But Mr. Salazar was wrong: All the experts had not agreed to the blanket moratorium. Some even said the moratorium could actually compromise safety.
Less than a month later, a federal judge struck down the moratorium as an overreaction by the government. Mr. Salazar’s response? Digging himself – and America — even deeper: He quickly instituted a second moratorium that was nearly identical to the first. That prompted the judge to hold the Interior Department in civil contempt.
Since then, Mr. Salazar has repeatedly claimed that the moratorium has been lifted, and that his office is working to approve oil drilling permits. But the thousands of idled Gulf workers — who are waiting on those permits – see little evidence that his office is doing anything.
Perhaps it’s appropriate then that a federal holiday falls on the one-year anniversary of Mr. Salazar’s moratorium. It’s an official day when those in his office won’t be doing their jobs.
Unfortunately, neither will Gulf workers.