New Interior Secretary rejects plan for offshore oil, gas drilling listen02/10/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has rejected a Bush administration plan to open vast waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to oil and gas drilling.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, the former Colorado senator blasted the process with which the previous administration went about making such a decision.
Salazar said that despite the enormous sweep of the proposal to open up as many as 300-million acres to oil and gas leasing, the Bush administrationâ€™s notice called for the completion of all hearings by March 23rd.
Secretary Salazar introduced four specific steps â€“ such as extending the public comment period on the plan for six months and ordering his experts to compile a report on the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCSâ€™s energy potential.
The Bush administration had authorized the Interior Department to open areas off both coasts to oil and natural gas drilling during a five-year period. That move came after a moratorium on drilling there expired last year. Offshore drilling is already allowed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Salazar said that those representing the oil and gas industries will have a seat the table, but that the Obama administration wants a comprehensive energy plan, and not the â€œdrill, baby , drill" mantra that was embraced by the GOP last fall.
Salazar says heâ€™ll host four regional meeting around the country in upcoming months to gather the best ideas to move forward on the OCS.
Salazar was critical of the Bush administrationâ€™s lack of commitment on a bill that Congress passed which required the Department of Interior to move quickly and issue within nine month the final rules with respect to renewable energy resources in the OSC.