Salazar Refutes GOP Claim That Interior Dept. Favors Only Green Energy

By Christopher Goins | March 23, 2012 | 8:29pm EDT

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar hosted an oil containment summit in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2011. At the event he chided congressional lawmakers about passing legislation that would make his agency increase production of domestic oil and natural gas resources. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Friday dismissed allegations by Capitol Hill Republicans that the Interior Department is making it difficult for any kind of energy production in the U.S. other than for alternative energy.

“The attacks we are getting are in my view being spread by the prophets of falsehood,” Salazar said during a telephone press conference.

“They simply are not true. The reality of it is that we have an all of the above energy strategy that the president has spoken often about that.”

The top Interior Department official made his comments in response to a reporter who asked: “You’ve been getting some flak from Republicans on the Hill of taking resources, making it difficult for wind and solar, but other developments of energy on public lands. Would you go ahead and respond now to any complaints that this will shut off areas that wind developers might want to look at? And direct them to areas specifically that the administration wants them to use?

Salazar added: “We’ve been implementing it here in the department from day one. And we are proud of the fact that in three years alone we have doubled the amount of renewable energy here in the United States. We are now generating 20 percent of the entire world’s wind power here in the United States of America.”

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Salazar went on to say that oil production on public lands is 13 percent higher in the United States in the last three years than in the last three years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

However, according to the Government Accountability Office, green energy projects account for 55.5 percent of federal subsidies for electricity production -- only 5 percent went to oil and gas projects.

And, as CNSNews.com has reported, oil production on federally owned lands has actually declined since 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service.

One energy expert told CNSNews.com, meanwhile, that statistics from Salazar’s own department directly contradict the secretary’s comments.

“The administration is trying every way they can to deny the truth and deceive the American public,” said Benjamin Cole, Director of Communications for the Institute for Energy Research.

“According to the production numbers put out by Ken Salazar's own department, oil production was down 13 percent on federal lands. Offshore production alone down 104 million barrels, owing largely to the Obama administration's drilling moratorium,” Cole said.

“The last three years of this administration have been marked by abysmal leasing activity, a regulatory blockade against oil shale production, and a plan for development of offshore resources that closes access to the most promising oil reserves in the outer continental shelf and Alaska,” Cole added.

In fact, according to statistics from the Energy Information Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Energy, crude oil production on Federal and Indian lands is down 13 percent from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011.

(Although the Energy Information Administration serves as a function of the Department of Energy, the EIA doesn’t do anything but compile statistics from other agencies such as the Department of the Interior, Cole says.)

“For example, the recent EIA report ‘Sales of Fossil Fuels Produced from Federal and Indian Lands, FY 2003 through FY 2011,’ uses data from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, an Interior Department agency,” Cole told CNSNews.com.

Cole said that statistics compiled by the Institute for Energy Research show that in the Obama administration leases for expanding domestic energy production have been down from every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan.

According to IER: “The average annual leases issued during the Obama administration is down 35.5 percent from the George W. Bush administration, down 50.7 percent from the Clinton administration, down 69.5 percent from the George H.W. Bush administration, and down 78.9 percent from the Reagan administration.”

Salazar, meanwhile, said that both the Interior Department and President Obama were taking an “All of the Above” approach when it came to energy.

“It’s a strategy that relies on producing more oil and gas here in America,” he said. “But also -- and very importantly -- more biofuels, more fuel-efficient cars, and more renewable energy like wind and solar power,” he said.

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