Eric Holder Isn’t The Worst Of Obama’s Cabinet Members

You might be tempted to think he is. But you’d be wrong.

The worst of the worst isn’t Holder, it isn’t Kathleen Sebelius, it isn’t Lisa Jackson and it isn’t Ray LaHood. They’re all awful. But at the bottom level of the Obama inferno is the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar. (OK, maybe Steven Chu at Energy is a close second.)

Why do we say this? Well, following an established record of lying to Congress about his agency’s permitting process for offshore oil over the last two years Salazar is now taking the lead in demanding that the federal government regulate hydraulic fracturing – which has been successfully handled by the states for decades.

State level oversight of hydraulic fracturing or fracking is not sufficient and criticism leveled at the Obama administration for its proposed rules is not valid, Salazar told Reuters in an interview. …

“There are some who are saying that it’s not something we ought to do, it should be left up to the states. That’s not good enough for me because states are at very different level, some have zero, some have decent rules.”

The Obama administration unveiled long-awaited rules in May to bolster oversight on public lands of oil and natural gas drilling using fracking technology, running into criticism it was creating a duplicate layer of bureaucracy and infringing on states’ rights. …

“Shale gas has provided the United States the opportunity to have 100 years of supply that is domestically produced. If we are going to develop natural gas from shale, it has to be done in a safe and responsible manner,” Salazar said…

State governments have already proven themselves capable of insuring safe and responsible shale gas production.

That’s not my opinion. That’s the opinion of Lisa Jackson, who heads up the EPA – not exactly a stooge of the oil and gas industry. Jackson had this to say about whether the feds need to get involved in fracking last fall…

“The vast majority of oil and gas production is regulated at the state level. There are issues of whether or not the federal government can add to protection and also peace of mind for citizens by looking at large issues like air pollution impacts, which can be regional. … So it’s not to say that there isn’t a federal role, but you can’t start to talk about a federal role without acknowledging the very strong state role.”

And the kicker…

“We have no data right now that lead us to believe one way or the other that there needs to be specific federal regulation of the fracking process.”

Wait, what was that again? Do you want to see it before you’ll believe she said that?

OK, fine. Give this until about the 1:10 mark…

So the EPA administrator who ostensibly would be in charge of doing the regulation of fracking says there’s nothing out there to suggest there’s any real need for the feds to get involved in the regulation.

Bear in mind that what happens with hydraulic fracturing is entirely within a state’s purview. A well is drilled within a state and it doesn’t cross state lines. Perhaps the equipment or materials used in a well could cross state lines – it’s a decent assumption they do – but to make that a federal responsibility is to push the envelope beyond any semblance of rationality.

Salazar’s agency is a major part of a consortium of federal bureaucracies working on an omnibus set of one-size-fits-all regulations to govern fracking on federal lands, and those regs are supposed to be finished by the end of the year. So says Heather Zichal, the enviro-loon climate/energy czar put in charge of that consortium…

Heather Zichal, the top White House energy aide, told reporters that she expects the Interior Department rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, dubbed fracking, to be completed by year’s end.

“We are committed to doing the rule and we are committed to finalizing it,” Zichal told reporters after remarks at the think tank NDN.

Advocates of tougher “fracking” oversight will have their eyes on the calendar, especially if President Obama loses the White House to Mitt Romney, his GOP rival. …

In her wide-ranging remarks on energy to the group, Zichal touted White House plans to spur development of both traditional and alternative sources, including natural gas.

It’s just for federal lands, you say. That’s legitimate, you say.

Maybe you’re right. But let’s not forget that these are the same people who have managed to plunge oil and gas production on federal lands to the lowest levels in nine years while everywhere else that drilling is exploding – so much so that the Wall Street Journal is now talking about America weaning itself off Mideast oil in the next two decades. Allowing them to go through the same regulatory orgy with respect to fracking is a sure-fire formula for the same decline.

By the way, we mentioned Chu above – and we stand by the assessment of him as awful. From the same Reuters piece with Salazar’s quote about how the states aren’t capable of functioning at the same honest-and-transparent level that earned Salazar a contempt-of-court citation in a federal court in 2010, we find out that part of the reason the natural-gas boom is sputtering amid painfully low prices and a burgeoning supply that outstrips current demand is that the Department of Energy is choking off the ability to export the stuff…

The gas glut has cut America’s energy dependence, but also depressed natural gas prices, even as Asian markets, particularly in Japan and South Korea, are hungry for liquefied natural gas.

The Energy Department, which must approve gas exports to all but about a dozen countries, has said it is not opposed in principle to LNG exports, but will hold off on any further export permits until it has received a study on the economic impact of sending gas abroad.

This from a department whose head made the riotously inappropriate comment at the outset of his tenure to the effect that American fuel prices need to rise to the levels of Europe so that the Solyndras and Beacon Energys of the world will become economically viable. Hey, we can do that study for them – the more natural gas you allow to be exported the more you trade deficit will shrink, the more profits Americans will earn, the more demand you’ll create for a domestic product and the more jobs you’ll create.

But with people like this in charge of regulating key parts of our economy, why would anybody put their money at risk in a business expansion or startup in the industries they affect? If you’re looking for a reason why the American economy isn’t expanding, take a look at Salazar and Chu and you’ll get a good indication.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, there’s a potential solution to this which won’t happen – namely, a bill in Congress which would clarify that a state has sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing within its boundaries, regardless of whether that land is federal or not. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) authored the bill and introduced it at the end of March, and Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) is one of the co-sponsors, but so far it hasn’t gotten a vote in committee yet.

Maybe it’s time to move HR 4322. It’s unlikely it would get out of the Senate as currently constituted, though.



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