Actions Speak Louder than Words at U.S. Interior Department
Contrary to rhetoric, Obama Administration’s Actions Have Blocked American Jobs and American Energy Production
January 22, 2010
Exactly one year ago today, the newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar delivered his first speech
to Department employees, outlining his vision for the future of the agency.
Unfortunately, Secretary Salazar’s rhetoric stands in stark contrast to many of the actions taken by his Department this year. Despite promises to create new jobs, grow the economy and increase American energy production, the Interior Department has imposed policies that do just the opposite. Time and time again, the Administration’s words haven’t matched reality.
PROMISE: Build a clean energy economy
Although Secretary Salazar issued
a Secretarial Order to focus on renewable energy production, his Department has failed to issue a single permit for any commercial renewable energy project.
- The Interior Department established new solar reserve areas under the premise of prioritizing solar development, but the actual result was the closing of all but two percent of federal lands from renewable energy development. This was done without public comment. The Department left open only 670,000 acres of the nearly 30 million acres of land with solar potential.
- The Interior Department declared that the Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, striking a severe blow to the possibility that the Cape Wind Project – the first offshore wind farm – will ever become a reality.
PROMISE: Help our nation reduce its dependence on foreign oil
- After Congress lifted the moratorium on offshore drilling, Secretary Salazar implemented a de facto ban by delaying development of the new five-year leasing program that would have created new jobs, produced more American-made energy, and made us less dependent on foreign oil. Salazar later stated that the Administration may not complete a new Outer Continental Shelf lease plan until 2012.
- Just days after taking office, the Administration withdrew areas offered for 77 oil and gas leases in Utah. In October, the Interior Department issued a final report on the Utah oil and gas leases, offering only 17 of the 77 leases. This will cost American taxpayers millions of dollars in lost lease bids, production royalties, new jobs and the energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and gas.
- The Interior Department delayed the new round of oil shale research, demonstration, and development (RD&D) leases that would help advance American technology and create high-tech jobs in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. The Department later announced a new round of RD&D leases that include job killing variable terms, royalty rates, and lease sizes.
- Secretary Salazar blocked new uranium mining for two years on one million acres of land in Arizona, increasing the likelihood that America will remain almost completely dependent on foreign uranium.
- The Interior Department implemented numerous new hurdles to the leasing and development of new oil and natural gas on onshore federal lands.
PROMISE: Strengthen our environmental security
- The Department of Interior continues to block the Department of Homeland Security from effectively securing our nation’s borders on public lands – resulting in high rates of criminal activity, human trafficking and excessive environmental damage.
PROMISE: Ensure tax dollars are used wisely, efficiently and appropriately
- Out of the $3 billion in “stimulus” funds that the Interior Department received, only $1.23 billion has been obligated and only $273.83 million has actually been spent. This is less than 10 percent. And despite Republican requests, the Department has failed to provide information regarding how many jobs were created, explain how they determined which projects would receive money, and provide a complete list of projects that were considered.
- Even though the National Park Service has a $9 billion maintenance backlog, the Interior Department acquired over 67,000 acres of new land in FY 09. Tax dollars could have been better spent helping the Park Service manage the lands they already own.
PROMISE: Create economic opportunity here at home
- Secretary Salazar helped push the Waxman-Markey National Energy Tax legislation through the House of Representatives, which would cost Americans over $1700 a year, spike energy bills, send American jobs overseas and devastate our economy.
- The Interior Department supported the passage of the Omnibus Public Lands Act. This $10 billion, 1200-page bill locked up over 3 million acres of federal land from energy job development and many forms of recreation.
- The Interior Department is part of the President’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which released an interim report that, when implemented, could require Federal and state agencies to restrict ocean and coastal activities. This would have significant impacts on our economy by blocking offshore energy production and limiting recreational access to our oceans.
PROMISE: Deal with water issues
- While tens of thousands people in California’s San Joaquin Valley suffer from unemployment due to a man-made California drought, Secretary Salazar refused to temporarily suspend portions of the Endangered Species Act in order to return the desperately needed flow of water to families and farmers.
- Secretary Salazar later indefinitely blocked the two-gates project – a temporary, partial solution to provide water to California’s farmers that was supported by the State’s two Democrat Senators. This prompted the Fresno Bee to editorialize that, “Unfortunately, it appears that Salazar has joined those unwilling to find a solution. That’s too bad for everyone.”
PROMISE: Empower Native American Tribes
- The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the cancellation of a permit for a Navajo Nation power plant that Navajo leadership called the most important development project the tribe has ever undertaken. This decision prevents the Navajo nation from creating new jobs and reducing its 42 percent unemployment rate. The Bureau of Indian Affairs also denied permission for the Navajo’s to lease its land for the power plant. The Department of Interior has stopped a permit for a coal mine on Navajo and Hopi lands, costing high-paying jobs.
- The Bureau of Indian Affairs is opposed to acquiring land in trust to facilitate development of an energy refinery to create new jobs in North Dakota.
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- The Administration and Democrat Majority in Congress has failed to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization legislation. Instead, reauthorization was jammed into the massive government-run healthcare bill. As Ranking Member Hastings recently noted: “Tying reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to the controversial government takeover of the nation’s health care does a serious disservice to Tribes and individual Indians and Alaska Natives across the country.”
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