Newt Gingrich's American Solutions has revealed our newest disgrace - DrillGate. Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) we learn that the public is favorable to offshore drilling, as laid out by the Bush administration, by a 2-1 ratio. This has put the Obama administration in the awkward position (or maybe it's business as usual) of hiding, deceiving and manipulating analysis of comments from American citizens. Now, a new comment period has been announced - 45 days of additional delay.
Here's the story. Months passed. Months after the public commenting period ended in September 2009, nothing was forthcoming from Salazar or the White House. Through the FOIA, American Solutions found 530,000 comments submitted showing overwhelming support for GW Bush's five-year plan, which was on Obama's desk when he moved into the Oval Office. The federally-mandated commenting period was already underway at that time, Flashback: "Drill baby! Drill!"
When Obama ascended to the Oval Office, the commenting period was extended to September 2009. An unnecessary delay, according to many. Perhaps the plan was to get ACORN online, filling out comments. Whatever...it didn't work.
Vince Haley at BigGovernment describes an email obtained through the FOIA showing the dishonest attempt to manage the public's very positive opinion of offshore drilling, by an administration not nearly as positive toward drilling as they wanted us to believe. This also gave Salazar a way to avoid publicly acknowledging the public's clear support for drilling. In fact, a spokeswoman for Liz Birnbaum said the agency had not completed "analyzing" the comments, although she acknowledge the results were favorable by a 2-1 ration. Translation: the agency had not completed manipulation of the data.
In an email dated October 27, 2009, Liz Birnbaum, director of the Minerals Management Service, informs other Interior officials that a preliminary tabulation of the results of the comment period had not yet gone to Secretary Salazar, adding “[s]o the Secretary can honestly say in response to any questions that he’s [SIC] has not yet seen the analysis of the comments – staff is still working on it. I did, however, confirm to him the 2-1 split that these guys [at American Solutions] are emphasizing.”But this administration is never without "the next move." In January 2010, Salazar announced another 45-day comment period on a "study of how drilling would affect the ocean floor" off the Atlantic coastline. It is not clear who the commenters will be. You and I probably know little about the ocean floor, but to say experts in the field of oceanography know little, is unbelievable to me. But wait, this article says the 45-days are, indeed, for the public "to weigh in on "seismic exploration" in their area. What was the 2009 comment period for? Another orchestrated ACORN opportunity.
We don't see this as a bad thing," said Nicolette Nye, spokeswoman for the National Ocean Industries Association, which promotes offshore drilling. "We're pleased the new administration is continuing with the … process."Energy companies are lined up to begin seismic research in the Atlantic coastline, to indicate the possibility of oil and gas under the ocean's floor, but the rumblings of dangers to marine life are already ramping up.
The Bush plan, which had the support of 68% of Americans, would have allowed drilling on up to 300 million acres off US coastlines and would have taken effect in mid-2010. Salazar is quoted as saying it "was a headlong rush of the worst kind." There is no doubt that while Birnbaum protected Salazar from the full data in writing, he knew and he enabled the stall full disclosure, promised by the President.
Vince Haley points out the "extraordinary benefits" of jobs that could be created, "without federal spending," at a time when our Nation is facing the highest unemployment in decades, with no bright outlook for changing the situation, and with another dishonest stimulus, verified by the previous stimulus failure, to create jobs.
The Freedom of Information Act protects citizens from their government's secrets, but when the government fails to disclose, and forces the public to file an FOI request, those responsible should be held accountable. The people should never have to d-r-a-g public data from elected officials.