Rep. Jeff Landry is blasting the Obama Administration today for the inclusion of seven experts from the National Academy of Engineers who were listed as giving a “peer review” of the Department of Interior’s recommendation to shut down oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for six months following the BP oil spill.
Christopher Mansour, director of the Interior Department’s office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, is now saying any misunderstanding that engineers supported the moratorium was due to a “drafting error,” in the report.
“I think the American people need to know who made this billion dollar drafting error. Normally, an error like that would get somebody fired,” Landry said in a telephone interview this morning. “This is no drafting error. It’s was an intentional deception in order to build a case for the moratorium in order to prop up our country’s investments in green energy production.”
Landry called for a subpoena to be issued to the Obama Administration on March 28 during his opening statement of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee meeting for documents relating to communications with the officials from the National Academy of Engineers. Engineers have said since the report was published that they recommended against the moratorium.
The Department of the Interior has invoked executive privilege to keep from releasing the correspondences, prompting a second round of subpoenas. New subpoenas were issued yesterday to the Inspector’s General office so that the committee could get a look at email exchanges and other documents relating to engineers’ recommendations about shutting down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
For those who need a little more background for all of this, here is how it plays out:
On May 27, 2010, a report from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was published recommending the six-month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf that was then imposed.
The report listed the engineers consulted in making the decision to halt drilling in the Gulf. The problem is that what the report didn’t say is that these experts were against the six-month drilling moratorium, not in favor if it. They left that part out, but members of the Natural Resources Committee were later clued in when they questioned the engineers.
This started an investigation in which committee members asked for the correspondences so they might know what was really said. When the Interior Department refused to turn them over, subpoenas were issued.
Executive privilege was used by the “most transparent and ethical administration in history.”
In case you were wondering, Obama hasn’t really kept his promise to “reign in exploding deficits,” either.
While most correspondences have been kept secret, this one has become public, in which the Interior Department admits that it “independently concluded that a 6-month moratorium” was needed and issues something of an apology, saying that they “did not mean to imply that you agreed with the decision to impose a moratorium on all new deep-water drilling.”
If it wasn’t meant to imply that engineers agreed with the moratorium, why reference them at all in the report calling for it? Furthermore, why not include in the report that they advised against the moratorium as has been learned since?
“That’s the whole point,” said Landry. “What you have is deception from an administration that presented a report in which engineers were listed to imply that they agreed that it was dangerous to keep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. What I believe is really dangerous to the nation’s welfare is $5 per-gallon gasoline.”
I think it goes without saying who is ultimately behind the “billion dollar drafting error,” as Landry puts it. We get the chance to fire him in November.