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June 4, 2010

Obama should fire Ken Salazar

It’s time for him to go.
We’ve seen enough of Ken Salazar.
President Obama should take his Interior secretary with him to the Gulf today and forget to bring him back.

He’s been useless, and never more so than right now. He casts no shadow.

The president has already admitted he screwed the pooch on the spill response. What's one more mea culpa when the entire Gulf region is starting to smell like a gigantic Jiffy Lube?

It's not as if Obama couldn't find a replacement. Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva immediately comes to mind. How about Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who has fought big oil and has a business background? Pick a Udall--Tom or Mark--both senators and both with a family history of caring for the environment.

Salazar, the former Colorado senator, has already proven he's out of his league. Pressed last month by a Congressional panel about his response to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, Salazar responded that he sent a top aide to the region "without a change of underwear."

What a twofer: pitifully lacking in detail AND too much information.

Let’s review his tenure as a member of Obama’s cabinet.

He assumed the post in January 2009, knowing that during six of the last eight years, his department was run by Gale Norton, a political hack who fled to take a cushy job at Shell Oil.

Further, there’s a scathing 2007 report sitting on his desk that says the Minerals Mangement Service office in Denver is "a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere" that included some of your employees doing drugs and having sex with the very people they’re supposed to be keeping an eye on.

But instead of taking a blowtorch to the infected parts of the operation, he scooted about the country doing photo opportunities in front of really groovy places run by his National Park Service.

In March 2009, he called the controversy surrounding an 11th-hour Bush administration decision to allow people to carry concealed, loaded guns in national parks a "distraction" to Americans and his department.

The folks who know better--the ones who raise money for parks and former employees--disagreed. The National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees filed suit, asking that the no loaded guns policy established under the Reagan administration be restored.

Salazar hired Sylvia Vaca, a former BP executive, to be deputy administrator for land and minerals management.

Meanwhile, the MMS allowed the operators of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig to cut corners.
And even with oil erupting into the Gulf, Salazar's underlings approved other underwater drilling permits.

Last week, the Inspector General issued another MMS report that found employees in Louisiana took tickets to sports events, indulged in free lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies. Thirteen employees had porn on their government computers and others did drugs.

Salazar called the report, "deeply disturbing."

Really? Is that the best he could do?

The secretary has a plan. He wants to replace MMS with a new bureaucracy to separate the enforcement function from the oil and gas revenue collection operation. In that way, there will be one hand out instead of two.

The name Minerals Management Service would be but a memory. Salazar should be in that category, too.

Cleaning up this mess should start at Interior and with Salazar, who wears a big cowboy hat, but can't talk the talk or walk the walk.

Posted by Candus Thomson at 8:30 AM | | Comments (9)


Amen, we have been singing the same song over Salazar's all out attack on our native wild horses. Destroying them was not enough, now he takes his destruction and blank stare to the high seas.

Get him out and get him out, now!

After smelling the stench from the white house I have to wonder does anyone there even change their underwear let alone take a change when they go somewhere else?
After all why take something they will not use?

It is most definitely time for salazar to go. He is the top dog at the department of interior and should at least acknowledge the exemptions granted to BP and the other oil companies which have been continued under his watch. Birnbaum was the scapegoat. We need to demand that Ken Salazar be removed. and hopefully replaced by someone who CARES about the environment.

Obama appointed him! I say get rid o both of them. I doubt if this oil mess will stick on Obama nothing else has. The President is quick to point his finger at others, I have never seen him take responsibility for anything negative.

Thanks for saying this. An article in Salon by Glenn Greenwald summed it up well too. It said, "Obama chose on the most industry-pleasing, industry-subservient Democrats to head the Interior Department despite what everyone knew as pervasive cooruption at that Department . . . back in late 2008, bojections to Salazar from environmental groups were dismissed as obsolete, left-wing purity obsessions of idealogues. We were in a Post-Partisan, Pragmatic Age where such concerns were no longer valid." In addition to getting Salazar canned, we need to end this "Post-Partisan, Pragmatic Age" before there is more damage.

It's easy for anyone to criticize Secretary Salazar on this response, but it's wrong. Secretary Salazar recommended great reforming ideas after this mess up, including separating the MMS regulatory part of the agency from the revenue collecting part. He placed drilling moratoriums on new areas and billed BP for the government's responses. And in my home region of Bristol Bay, home to America's most valuable fisheries worth over $2 billion per year, he cancelled planned leases by the Bush Administration. Criticize all you want, but the blame for this should not go to him, but to the oil industry and Bushies who started this mess!

Please dump Salazar. He is as much a representative of the fossil as are his much touted and supported FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRIES which, if you take one example, the Ruby Pipeline -- represent business as usual. Same goes for Bob Abbey.

Save America's Wild Horses and Burros!

When Salazar was Colorado AG he could not even go to the bathroom without checking the polls. He can not handle a dirty diaper let alone this BP mess.

In my experience, Salazar evaded insurance reporting regulations when he was CO Attorney General. Thus why should Salazar be trusted to run Interior? Look at "Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency". The Division of Insurance lists CIRSA as a "Governmental Self Ins Pool" While Salazar was CO AG and since, the State of Colorado admitted that it does not keep as required by CRS 24-10-115.5 (5) “The commissioner of insurance, or any person authorized by him, shall conduct an insurance examination at least once a year to determine that proper underwriting techniques and sound funding, loss reserves, and claims procedures are being followed.” With Salazar's knowledge the state decided to ignore that law while Salazar was CO AG. 
The attorney bills paid by CIRSA show 
2/19/03 "Telephone calls from and to Colorado Attorney General re case status". (Salazar was CO AG) 6/26/03 "Confer with attorney general regarding case status" 8/07/03 "Telephone call from State Insurance staff regarding plaintiffs' demands, case background etc." That was related to my open records request for CIRSA's claims handling policies. 8/28/03 "Conference with Attorney General regarding state response to plaintiffs". 9/04/03 "Confer with Dawes regarding injunction and insurance commissioner issues". 10/16/03 "Telephone calls insurance commissioner regarding case status" 10/17/03 "telephone calls from and to Gambrill with insurance commissioner".

 My case was dismissed by former judge Naughty Nottingham without an opinion. See D of CO 02-cv-1950 on PACER document 455 after CIRSA paid for many private phone calls to and from the federal court.
Nottingham was not prosecuted for his involvement with the Denver Players brothel. Interior's MMS Interior Denver staff was not prosecuted for involvement with prostitutes paid by oil companies.

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About Candus Thomson
In a world of paper vs. plastic and candy mint vs. breath mint, my early memories involved a debate about the merits of freshwater vs. saltwater.

On the one hand, a great uncle’s fishing cabin on the Susquehanna River beckoned, but so did family gatherings on the Jersey Shore.

The correct answer, thankfully, was, “both.”

As The Sun’s outdoors writer for more than a decade, I’ve fished across Maryland in one day, hiked the width of the state in one hour, camped overnight in the median of I-95 to experience the wildlife between the fast lanes and chased mountain bikers in a 24-hour marathon race.

Those are some of the highlights. I’ve also fallen in a raging Gunpowder River during a trout survey (photo available upon request), had a shark spill its guts on my clothes and been stuck in a sub-freezing Vermont wilderness with men armed with flintlocks and hatchets, shuffling along on ancient wooden snowshoes.

And, in my travels I’ve met lots of you, who share a love of the outdoors and the good times and mishaps that go along with it.

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