Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he has no idea how many foreigners are extracting American gas and oil, while answering questions at a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing held on Nov. 16, 2011.
During the hearing, Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) told Salazar that his staff has asked two divisions of Salazar’s Interior Dept., the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, (BOEM) for a list of foreign energy companies that own leases in the U.S.
Continuing a pattern of Obama administration appointees blatantly ignoring Congressional requests for information, Salazar and company refused or were unable to supply the information. The Secretary of the Interior of the United States of America appeared quite uninformed during this hearing on such things as how many foreign governments are drilling for oil and gas on American lands and offshore in American waters. The following are part of the hearing’s question and answer session with Mr. Salazar:
Rep Rivera: “It’s my understanding, in order for a foreign government owned company to operate in the U.S. and bid on leases in the U.S., they must first be incorporated in the United States. Is that correct?
Ken Salazar: : “I don’t know the answer that question.”
RIVERA: “OK. Well, recently, my staff contacted the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Land Management to try to get a list of all foreign government-owned companies that have leases in the United States. And they were surprised to learn that the government doesn’t keep a database of what companies are foreign government-owned. The foreign government-owned companies are just mixed in with the regular privately owned companies. So I believe it’ll be useful to at least be able to track these companies and what government owns them. Could you help me with that, get that information? “
SALAZAR: We will. And let me ask, for the record, Abbey or Beaudreau have any information on that question?
(UNKNOWN): It is correct that, in order to obtain a federal OCS lease, a company needs to be registered in the United States through the relevant State Department.
So federal energy leases must be registered with the State Dept., yet no one seems capable of telling Rep. Rivera how many foreign governments and companies are drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. They are either totally incompetent, or simply refusing to tell Americans the truth, take your pick there. Then the issues of Spain’s drilling for oil in Cuban waters 70 miles off of our coast came up.
Rep Rivera: A few months ago, I believe in June, you were in Spain and spoke to Repsol officials regarding their proposed drilling plans in Cuban waters. Is that correct, Mr. Secretary?
Salazar: That is correct.
Rivera: And in that meeting or any other meeting you’ve had with Repsol officials, did you — a topic come up or reiterate United States policy on doing business with state sponsors of terrorism or have any discussions to discourage their actions in Cuba?
Salazar: ( As he attempts to dodge the question) You know, our focus, Congressman Rivera, has been to make sure that we do everything within the legal boundaries that we can operate in to protect the environment and the people of the United States.
Rivera: So I would — I would that to mean more of a cooperative effort to make sure and protect the people of the United States, which is important, to make sure and do every possible measure to do that. But you’re telling me nothing was ever done by you to discourage their participation in collaborating with a state sponsor of terrorism in those offshore oil-drilling efforts. ( emphasis mine)
Salazar: We do not have authority over other countries on what they do with respect to their…
Rivera: I understand. I know you can’t stop them, but do you ever try to discourage?
Salazar: Our program, Congressman Rivera, has to been to make sure that we do everything we can within our legal power.
Rivera: OK. Well, let’s talk about the…
Salazar: … environment of the United States. ( still trying to deflect the real question asked)
Rivera: Let’s talk about the legal power. In terms of in terms of the — did you ever up bring up having the Bureau of Industry and Security also be allowed to inspect the rate (ph) to ensure that the Export Administration Act and the Export Administration Regulations 10 percent de minimum U.S. content rule were being respected, speaking of legal authority? Had that issue ever come up?
Salazar: You know, Congressman Rivera, this is an issue where the State Department and other agencies have the lead. And we are participating because of our expertise. But I do know whether those conversations took place, and I don’t have an answer to your question.
Rivera: OK, well, recently colleagues of mine here, along with Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to the president regarding this issue. Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I’d like to ask that that letter be submitted for the record.
Chairman Hastings: Without objection, it’ll be part of the record.
Rivera: Thank you.
I think it’s of great concern by the lack of effort in this administration — administration-wide, whether it be your agency, State Department or anyone else, that no effort has been made to previous a state sponsor of terrorism to drill approximately 60-70 miles off of Florida’s coast and providing economic aid and comfort to the dying Castro dictatorship.
And I hope that, in the future, the administration will do everything to make sure that companies comply with sanctions that apply to businesses that do cooperate with sponsors of state terrorism, by perhaps, in your — in your agency, withdrawing leases on federal lands and waters.
That could be a start to certainly send a signal that that — that this type of activity is certainly frowned upon, collaborating with terrorist regimes.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to draw attention with my colleagues, to legislation I have introduced with Congresswoman Ros- Lehtinen and Congressman Diaz-Balart and Representative Sires, the Foreign Oil Spill Liability Act, that would apply the same oil pollution act responsibilities and liabilities and Clean Water Act penalties that a domestic responsibility party would face to a foreign responsible party for a spill that pollutes U.S. waters and beaches.
The penalty, the liabilities would be triple. Currently, the burden is much lower on foreign spillers, forcing the American taxpayer to cover the cleanup costs, and members can contact my office if they wish more information on that legislation.
That’s all I have. Thank you, Mr. Secretary
Mr Salazar implemented a moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico( upon Obama’s orders) which stopped drilling and exploration in June of 2010. Many rigs pulled out of the Gulf, possibly never to return. At the same time the Obama administration gave Brazil 2 billion taxpayer dollars to further their own oil drilling. Ken Salazar went on another taxpayer funded junket to Spain to give his approval for Respol to drill 70 miles off the coast of America for a state sponsor of terrorism, Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
Thank you Rep. Rivera for demanding the truth about just how many foreign governments and corporations are now drilling for oil and gas in America and her territorial waters. It is nothing short of ludicrous that the Secretary of the Interior supposedly does not know this information, or just refuses to comply with congressional requests for the data. We the people have the right to know just who is being allowed to extract our own oil and gas, and why foreign governments and corporations are now taking precedence over American companies in our very own energy sector. China has the monopoly on the solar panel industry and now it seems like our government wants to allow foreigners to attain a larger share of the world’s oil and gas reserves, including those right here in America. ( The price of gasoline has risen another 20% since last week, just in time for the heavy travel season of Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years.)
2012 just can’t get here fast enough!
Footnote: For a complete list of foreign companies drilling in just the Gulf region alone, see this fact-sheet, from virginia.edu. Major oil Companies Operating in the Gulf Region.