Shouldn’t Ken Salazar be impeached?

June 23, 2010

Okay, we know it isn’t going to happen for two reasons:

  1. It’s a Democratic-controlled Congress through at least next January.
  2. And, as far as we know, he’s committed no criminal act, and precedent would seem to require that.

And yet, shouldn’t the Secretary of the Interior be impeached or, at the least, be fired or forced to resign for blatantly lying in the report that justified the Gulf drilling moratorium?

Much to the government’s discomfort and this Court’s uneasiness, the Summary also states that “the recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” As the plaintiffs, and the experts themselves, pointedly observe, this statement was misleading. The experts charge it was a “misrepresentation.” It was factually incorrect. Although the experts agreed with the safety recommendations contained in the body of the main Report, five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they “do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium” on floating drilling. They envisioned a more limited kind of moratorium, but a blanket moratorium was added after their final review, they complain, and was never agreed to by them. A factor that might cause some apprehension about the probity of the process that led to the Report.

That’s from the ruling (PDF) of Federal Judge Martin Feldman, whose restraining order blocked the moratorium. To translate that last sentence, it’s a nice way of calling Secretary Salazar a big, fat liar. For background on the controversy over the experts’ opinions and Salazar’s fictionalization, read this article from NOLA.com, which also reports Interior as claiming “the White House made us do it.”

Since it’s evident that Secretary Salazar is willing to lie to the American people and misrepresent facts in court in order to serve the (anti-drilling) political needs of the White House, and since he’s quite happy to use those lies to justify actions that would do undoubted harm to the people  of the Gulf states during a time of national disaster, shouldn’t he be forced out? Shouldn’t he be hounded into resignation? Shouldn’t his boss be made to pay a political price by firing him for being revealed as a willing and dishonest tool? Hasn’t he lost the confidence of the American people as steward of our natural resources?

Or does he get a pass for all this?

(via Michelle Malkin)


Obama: an impotent thug

June 21, 2010

Michael Barone coined the terms “thugocracy” and “gangster government” for the Obama style of governance. He should know, being from the Chicago area, himself. He returns to that theme in an article in today’s Washington Examiner, observing that, for a thug president steeped in the Chicago Way, Obama is pretty darned ineffective:

Thuggery is unattractive. Ineffective thuggery even more so. Which may be one reason so many Americans have been reacting negatively to the response of Barack Obama and his administration to BP’s Gulf oil spill.

Take Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s remark that he would keep his “boot on the neck” of BP, which brings to mind George Orwell’s definition of totalitarianism as “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” Except that Salazar’s boot hasn’t gotten much in the way of results yet.

Barone then goes through several examples related to the Gulf oil spill to show that Obama’s strong-arm tactics haven’t done a thing to clean up the Gulf, though they have damaged the rule of law and shown that the “professor of constitutional law” is more comfortable with “Boss” politics than, well, acting within the constitutional limits of his office.

Be sure to read the whole article; Barone concludes with a hit that’s sure to leave a mark on our thin-skinned president’s hide.

RELATED: I’ve written before about the thuggish nature of Obama’s politics, notably with regard to free speech.


The Maine oil booms: Yes, they’re blowing smoke

June 17, 2010

Earlier in the saga of the Packgen oil-containment booms that apparently neither BP nor the Federal government wants, ostensibly because of quality issues, I had asked the following question:

Or are Washington and BP blowing smoke to cover for an initial and inexcusable lackadaisical response to the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history?

Silly me. I should have realized this was a rhetorical question; of course they’re just lying to cover up their bumbling:

Engineering Professor Gives Maine Boom Thumbs Up

“I have never directly looked at boom before,” says Ian T. Durham of the Department of Physics and Cooperative Engineering at Saint Anselm College.

That said, Durham says, analyzing boom “is a fairly standard, pretty simple mechanical engineering problem.”

Durham was recently hired by Packgen — the Maine packaging company that manufactured roughly 80,000 feet of boom that the US Coast Guard says failed an initial BP quality control test. Packgen president John Lapoint III has expressed frustration at BP/Coast Guard bureaucracy, insisting that the boom he’s making will work well in the Gulf, where boom is desperately needed.

Durham would not say how much he was paid, but he says he’s generally paid $100 an hour for consulting, and his analysis of Packgen boom took rougly 40-45 hours.

You can read Durham’s report HERE.

He says Packgen’s boom is superior to other boom. Its woven polypropelene is “practically indestructible,” he says. “Packgen uses it to make toxic waste disposal containers.”

Using woven polypropelene means the Packgen boom isn’t “going to twist like the vinyl” boom. “And it’s easier to deploy. It’s nice and stiff and it floats really nicely.”

As far as the professor is concerned, the boom meets or exceeds accepted ASTM standards. So, I ask again: aside from  connector problem that was easily rectified by Packgen, what is BP and the Coast Guard’s problem with Packgen’s product? If it’s even 50% effective, isn’t that better than nothing? Why hasn’t the whole supply been bought and shipped to the Gulf via military airlift?

It seems now that the answer is clear: the administration and BP screwed up by not acting on Packgen’s initial offers, which were conveyed through Maine’s two senators, and are now covering their rears by making up excuses that don’t stand up to the mildest challenge. Rather than admit they were slow off the mark and fixing the problem, the Lightworker administration waves its hands and tries to distract the audience like a cheap stage magician in Vegas whose tricks the crowd can see right through.

Pathetic.

(via Hot Air)


Mr. President, we have plenty of good places to drill

June 16, 2010

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office to inform us of the steps he’s taken to deal with the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To be frank, I didn’t watch. For the 50-plus days oil has been spewing into the Gulf and wrecking local economies and ecologies, I’ve seen his response in action and I haven’t been impressed. Feckless, incompetent half-measures have been matched with an attitude of taking responsibility in name, only.

But, later, I read the speech out of curiosity. Of the many things to say about it (see the links below for good analysis), one item jumped out at me at the point at which the President tried to explain why we were drilling in such risky areas:

After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

(Also here. Emphasis added.)

Huh? To quote the mighty Joe Wilson, “You lie!!”

Okay, maybe he’s not lying, but it’s either that, or he’s ignorant of economics, the recent history of drilling in this country, and the established natural resources of the United States. To be fair, he says “part of the reason,” but it’s a big part of his argument.

And it’s a false part.

Forget for a moment the vast resources sitting off the Atlantic coast, the near-shore Gulf of Mexico, off California, the oil shale of Colorado and neighboring states, and the humongous amount of oil sitting under Alaska and just offshore. Let me provide just one example, which his own Geological Survey could have told him with a 30-second phone call:

In March, 2008, I wrote about the Bakken formation, a large oil bearing area under North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan province. Go ahead, read it for background. I’ll wait.  Whistling

Ah, you’re back. Okay, so the easily recoverable reserves for just North Dakota were estimated at 660 million barrels. A report from the USGS of about the same time puts the recoverable reserves under North Dakota and Montana at 3-4.3 billion barrels.  (See also here) And that still does not include the whole formation. Snopes points out that this would cover US oil imports for roughly only one year, not the 41 years some have hyperventilated over, but that’s a bit of a straw man, for it doesn’t consider other reserves in the US and nearby waters.

But, back to President Obama’s mendacious argument. It’s not that we’re “running out of places to drill;” it’s that government policy has been dominated by environmental reactionaries who opposed any drilling whatsoever onshore and in coastal waters, especially if it gets in the way of the pretty view from their house. That’s been the politics of oil here in California since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill. Since then, even with improvements in drilling technology and safety measures (this latest event aside, US platform drilling has an excellent safety history), it’s been almost impossible to get new drilling off the coast, thanks to a combination of the environmental Left and coastal homeowners playing the role of NIMBY.

It’s this Luddite eco-tyranny that’s lead to drilling in risky areas, such as where the now-destroyed Deepwater Horizon rig was located. By blocking exploration and exploitation in safer, more reasonable areas, the environmentalist Left has helped create the conditions for this catastrophe. No, I’m not excusing BP’s lousy practices or the Fed’s failure to properly supervise them and plan for a catastrophe. But the pressure to drill in riskier deep-water areas, which we first incentivized under Bill Clinton, originated with the anti-oil environmental lobby that has time and again fought to block intelligent exploitation of safer fields, such as ANWR or the coast of California via slant drilling.

So, Mr President, far from running out of places to drill, we have plenty. More than enough to safely supply our oil needs (or more realistically, greatly cushion our dependence on foreign oil) while we work to develop alternative sources of fuel and lubricants that are economically viable.

The Federal government just has to stop barring the door.

LINKS: Analysis of the rest of the President’s speech from Power Line, Hot Air, Big Government, the LA Time’s Andrew Malcolm, Jonah Goldberg, and Nick Gillespie.


The Maine oil-booms: CYA in action?

June 14, 2010

A few days ago, we covered the stunning revelation that the Coast Guard admiral in charge of dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill seemed never to have heard of the miles of containment boom sitting unused in Maine. ABC’s Jake Tapper broke that story and followed up with the Coast Guard, who told him the boom hadn’t met quality standards.

Eh… Not so fast. Tapper, again:

Over the weekend, Capt. Ron LaBrec from Coast Guard Public Affairs told me that according to a BP quality control inspector the PackGen boom did not pass an initial quality control test.

“Boom is subjected to great wear and tear when placed in the water and must be frequently tended,” LaBrec told me. “In order to retain its effectiveness boom must be of high quality. Once Packgen’s boom passes inspection, the company can be considered as a source for supplying boom.”

LaBrec noted that in the meantime, “suitable boom is being identified and obtained quickly” with 459,000 feet of boom stored in the region in addition to the 2.24 million feet deployed.

So what was wrong with the PackGen boom?

“There were concerns with material and end connectors,” LaBrec said. “BP has inspectors who visit facilities and regularly test boom. In addition to testing boom from new suppliers, boom from existing manufacturers is also tested/inspected. The Coast Guard also inspects boom that we purchase from suppliers. It is important because poorly designed boom may not work as intended.”

[Packgen President] Lapoint said the boom “not only meets” standards, “it exceeds it.”

“The only issue was the end connectors,” Lapoint said. So, he said, “we changed it to the universal connector, so there shouldn’t be any problems at all.”

Packgen further claims their boom exceeds standards by a factor of two, while Tapper quotes the relevant ASTM standards.

So, I ask again: What’s the hold up? Are the Coast Guard and BP using some standard other than ASTM (which would be odd)? If the switch to a universal connector was the only problem, why aren’t these booms on the way to the Gulf? Are there any other problems not mentioned?

Or are Washington and BP blowing smoke to cover for an initial and inexcusable lackadaisical response to the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history?

I don’t suspect we’ve heard the last of the Maine boom, by any means.

(via Jimmiebjr on Twitter)


Incompetent or just plain dumb? You make the call.

June 11, 2010

Three days ago, I linked to a Pajamas Media article that exposed the stunning fact that millions of feet of containment boom were sitting unused and unbought at a factory in Maine, in spite of the owner’s efforts to get the government’s attention.

So you’d think that, in the intervening time and with the slick spreading wider and wider, the government would have jumped right on this, bought Packgen’s entire stock, and ordered more.

I bet you believe in the tooth fairy, too.

TAPPER: I talked to a guy who runs a company in Maine that offers boom, and he has – he says – the ability to make 90,000 feet of boom a day. High quality. BP came there 2 weeks ago, looked at it, they are doing another audit today. He is very frustrated, he says he has a lot of high quality boom to go and it is taking a long time for BP to get its act together. Don’t you need this boom right now?

ALLEN: Oh we need all the boom wherever we can get it. If you give me the information off camera I’ll be glad to follow up.

That’s from an interview of Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the man in charge of the federal “response” to this disaster, by ABC’s Jake Tapper. I’m so glad the admiral’s willing to get right on this; I’d hate to think it’s interfering with something important, like his tee-time.

“Sense of urgency?” What’s that? No wonder Governor Jindal is blowing a gasket.

Forget basic competence; does anyone in the federal government even care?

(via Hot Air)

UPDATE: A follow up from Jake Tapper:

Coast Guard finally got back to me: “The boom manufactured by Packgen did not pass an initial quality control test.”

Fair enough. I assume this means they’ve tested it since Tapper gave Admiral Allen the phone number, though it begs the question of why it took them this long to even check.


Oil slick: if you thought they were incompetent yesterday…

June 9, 2010

Yet another beauty from the Keystone Kops Obama Administration. So far, we’ve learned that the administration and the agencies it supervises have moved, if at all, at a snail’s pace regarding the offer of a Maine businessman to supply them with roughly eight miles of containment boom per day. Now, per Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle, we have yet another example of how the Greatest Administration Ever couldn’t find it’s rear end with both hands and a flashlight:

U.S. and BP slow to accept Dutch expertise

Three days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch government offered to help.

It was willing to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands.

The response from the Obama administration and BP, which are coordinating the cleanup: “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” said Geert Visser, consul general for the Netherlands in Houston.

Now, almost seven weeks later, as the oil spewing from the battered well spreads across the Gulf and soils pristine beaches and coastline, BP and our government have reconsidered.

Oh, well, that’s just dandy! Only a month-and-a-half after being offered help from experts in this kind of crisis, the government and BP finally get around to saying “Yeah, okay. Might be a good idea.”

Call me parochial and lacking in nuance, but, isn’t it better to have more resources on hand to fix a problem than not to have what you need? Do you wait to go the store for a hammer to fix the hole in the roof until it collapses during a downpour? When your neighbor offers to help put out a fire on your property, don’t you say “yes, thanks?”

Hell yes you do!

Oh, and they were even willing to build Governor Jindal his sand berms – the ones the Interior Department couldn’t make up their minds about.

WTF? I ask again, W.T.F.??

Does anyone in the White House or BP know what they’re doing?

(via Hot Air)


Gulf oil slick: mindboggling incompetence

June 8, 2010

When an oil spill occurs in water, one thing you want a lot of is boom: floating barriers that can contain the oil to a relatively restricted area. Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and began the largest oil spill in US history, gulf-state governors have been begging for boom to protect their coastlines. Louisiana Governor Jindal asked for 5,000,000 feet of “hard” boom in early may. So far, he’s only received 20% of that. Supposedly, there just isn’t enough.

Wrong.

In what has got to be one of the most frustrating, infuriating moments of bureaucratic foot-dragging and incompetence since this whole mess began, a company in Maine has miles of boom available. They can churn out 40,000 feet per day, they’ve contacted federal officials and executives at BP – and no one will buy it from them:

John Lapoint of Packgen in Auburn, Maine, says he’s got plenty of floating oil containment boom and can make lots more on short notice. There’s just one problem: no one will buy it from him.

(…)

Packgen’s main business is not making oil boom. They make specialty packaging materials for shipping and storing environmentally sensitive materials. But when Packgen’s president, John Lapoint, saw the BP oil spill in the news, he understood right away that to have any hope of containing the oil drifting towards the shoreline, lots of floating boom would be necessary.

(…)

Maine, like the rest of the country, is suffering from very high unemployment. But its residents aren’t out of work because they aren’t useful; they’re useful, but out of work because there’s nothing much useful to do. Lapoint was able to immediately add two shifts of competent and motivated workers, and by the fourth day of production was making forty thousand feet of boom a day.

It’s likely they could make even more. But no one was ready to purchase it.

This comes down to a failure of anyone other than Mr. Lapoint, from the President of the United States to BP executives, to take any initiative. Instead they’ve stuck to approved procedures: when the Governor of Louisiana wants to build sand berms to protect his marshes, he has to wait for approval from Washington because of environmental regulations. And when a company stands ready to do its part and work round the clock to supply the equipment we need, no one from the Fed can be moved to do anything, while BP sniffs because the design isn’t approved, yet.

This is the worst of all possible situations: a Federal government that makes everyone wait on it, depend on it – and then won’t act decisively in a situation where it is given the lead role by law.

All while the ecologies and economies of the Gulf states are devastated.

Here we have Americans willing to take the initiative, from the Jindal administration to a small company in Maine, and the statist nitwits in DC are blocking them every step of the way. They should have instead have said “damn the regulations” and bought every foot of boom Packgen had, shipped by military airlift to the Gulf, and then set the company to working 24 hours a day. If the President is so willing to “kick ass,” here is just the situation in which he should put boot to tail. This is disgraceful.

Apparently, there are two clean ups in order: first the Gulf, and then Washington, D.C.  Angry

LINKS: More at Hot Air.