Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scapegoating Birnbaum, Saving Salazar

Last week Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar threw an old friend of mine, Liz Birnbaum, from Obama’s creaky Hope-Express. For ten months she was the head of the Mineral Management Service. Not exactly a lifetime you say? Well, according to Salazar, who has been on the job 16 months, that should have been enough time to clean up a dysfunctional agency that has been in the news repeatedly over recent years because of its habit of sleeping with the oil industry, both figuratively and physically--the same industry it was established to baby sit after being spun off from the Bureau of Land Management, the mother agency which was also criticized for being unable to fully protect the public from the all-powerful oil drilling fraternity. Despite what is reported in the press, and megaphoned by the headline seeking, platitude prone Salazar, MMS is not uniquely dysfunctional among Interior agencies, for none of the other regulatory agencies within Interior have ever received awards for protecting the public interest either. The greater tragedy is that the oil spill has killed people and a huge swath of the Gulf’s environment, ruined countless lives through lost jobs and incomes, and will continue to wash its aftermath over people and the environment for decades to come. The greatest tragedy of all is that similar disasters will inevitably reoccur if we don’t change. The chances of reasoned change seem remote and certainly not something to believe in. As for Salazar, he has shown himself to be just another contemptible politician by making Birnbaum the scapegoat for Deepwater...more

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