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March 17, 2011 / J. Shaw

Who Is Lying on Oil Permits? Int Sec Salazar Or Dept Justice?

President Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Congress recently that his department has received only seven deepwater drilling permit applications and 47 for shallow water drilling in the past nine months.

That caught Sen. David Vitter’s attention because he recalled that the Department of Justice told a federal judge last week that there are actually 270 shallow water drilling permit applications pending and 57 deepwater applications.

Which is it? The 54 applications Salazar claims or the 327 claimed by the Justice Department?

Does the Obama administration’s left hand know what it’s far-left hand is doing?

Vitter sent a scathing letter today to Salazar and to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Regulation director Michael Bromwhich, who repeated Salazar’s numbers, concerning the discrepancy. In his letter, Vitter pointed out that: “It is a mathematical impossibility for your representations to be accurate, as well as the filings of the Department of Justice to be accurate. It is not possible for there to be ‘too few permits’ awaiting review, and simultaneously ‘too many’ permits being reviewed to make issuing a particular handful problematic.” Vitter then reminded Salazar and Bromwhich that they are required by federal law and regulation to only make public information and data that is “accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased

MORE…….washingtonexaminer.

The full text of Vitter’s letter is below. A photo of Vitter’s February meeting with Bromwich in Vitter’s office is attached.
March 16, 2011

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL AND FACSIMILE
IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUESTED

Secretary Ken Salazar
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Director Michael Bromwich
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement
1849 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich:

I write to express my deep frustration with the public and private misrepresentation of how many drilling permits are pending before the agency. It is completely inexcusable for the information that both of you have provided to be so completely inconsistent with that of Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) court filing last week.

Over the last several weeks and months, you have indicated publicly, before Congress, and privately to members, including myself, that there are only a handful of permits awaiting agency action. Specifically: Secretary Salazar’s testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee two weeks ago stating that the administration has received only 47 shallow water permit applications over the past nine months, and that only 7 deepwater permit applications are pending; Mr. Bromwich personally stating to me that only 6 deepwater permits applications are pending; and Mr. Bromwich’s public statement that deepwater permit approvals will be limited because “only a handful of completed applications have been received.”

Your statements are completely inconsistent with the DOJ’s motion filing last week for a stay of Judge Martin Feldman’s rulings. On page 11 of that filing, the DOJ notes that there is potential harm in the “re-prioritization that results from the court’s orders” to issue seven permits in Feldman’s February and March orders. DOJ explains that this is because there are 270 shallow water permit applications pending, and 52 deepwater permit applications pending.

It is a mathematical impossibility for your representations to be accurate, as well as the filings of the Department of Justice to be accurate. It is not possible for there to be ‘too few permits’ awaiting review, and simultaneously ‘too many’ permits being reviewed to make issuing a particular handful problematic.

I would like to remind you of your responsibility as agency officials under the Information Quality Act (IQA). Section 515 of the IQA directs federal agencies to maximize “the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity” of information they prepare and disseminate and it requires agencies to adopt and follow implementing guidelines. The OMB guidelines note the IQA applies to the “creation, collection, maintenance, and dissemination of information.” The basic standard of care is that information must be “accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased.” Stricter and even more rigorous quality standards apply when the information is “influential,” meaning it will “have a clear and substantial impact on important public policies….”

It is important for the information you provide to elected officials and the public to meet basic legal and ethical guidelines required of federal agency officials. Disseminating false or misleading information impedes the credibility of BOEMRE and has a profound and direct impact on the people of Louisiana.

Sincerely,

David Vitter
U.S. Senate

Cc: Judge Martin Feldman

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