IG Probes Report Tampering in Drilling Ban

The acting Inspector General (IG) for the Department of the Interior (DOI) today confirmed she is conducting an investigation into the alteration of the 30-day safety report used to engineer the first moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by DOI Secretary Ken Salazar.

The safety report to the President on Outer Continental Shelf drilling was altered to include a recommendation in favor of the moratorium after it was peer-reviewed by seven experts from the National Academy of Engineers.

Gen. Mary Kendall, the acting DOI-IG, confirmed in a letter today that there was an open probe into the circumstances surrounding the alteration of the document. 

Kendall’s letter was in response to an inquiry from Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Co.), ranking Republican on the Energy and Minerals subcommittee about opening an investigation.

The Wall Street Journal documented in a recent report how the Obama Administration misrepresented in ths crucial 30-Day Safety Report the views of the seven engineers who did not recommend a moratorium on deepwater drilling. 

These scientists were clear in their assessment of the moratorium, saying it “will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill.”

Salazar used this report in an attempt to justify shutting down deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“After thousands of Americans have lost their jobs, a federal judge has slapped back Secretary Salazar’s moratorium as ‘arbitrary,’ and the experts themselves have publicly challenged the moratorium document, it’s certainly time for the Administration’s actions to be investigated.  It is clear now more than ever that the government’s deepwater drilling decisions need to be guided by strong science, not partisan politics.  If the Obama Administration purposefully manipulated the views of known experts on deepwater drilling and deceived the public, there should be serious consequences.  The current moratorium on deepwater energy exploration is costing Americans their jobs and causing significant economic harm to a region that cannot afford more hardships,” Hastings said of the news of the probe in the IG’s letter.
“The people of the Gulf Coast are already suffering enough from the devastating economic and environmental effects of the oil spill.  Struggling families in the Gulf deserve to know if politics trumped science on the recommendation for a deepwater moratorium.  I look forward to the results of this investigation and trust the Acting Inspector General will be fair in her assessment of the situation taking into account the massive job loss and financial impact of the Administration-imposed six-month moratorium,” Lamborn remarked.

“Thousands of Louisiana families who are losing their livelihoods to the moratorium deserve answers to these questions.  There are too many jobs at stake for the Administration to let politics interfere with the facts,” said Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a member of the Natural Resources Committee whose state economy has been particularly hard-hit by the moratorium.