U.S. Sen. David Vitter has sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announcing that he is holding up legislation in the U.S. Senate that would give Salazar a $19,600 per year pay raise. In light of BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich's recent admission that his department has only issued one new deepwater exploratory drilling permit since the moratorium was formally lifted in October, Vitter said that he will continue blocking the raise until Interior resumes issuing new permits at the same rate as before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"It's just my way of keeping the 'boot on the neck' of Interior until they get the job done. Surely the secretary can appreciate that approach," said Vitter.
Vitter emphasized that he is asking the Interior Department to speed up the pace of issuing new permits and will not count the reissuance of permits issued before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but later rescinded.
Vitter recently introduced 3-D: The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011, which would create more than 2 million jobs, $10 trillion in economic activity and $2 trillion in federal tax receipts (conservative 30-year estimates) by unleashing America's vast domestic energy potential.
The full text of Vitter's letter is below.
May 23, 2011
The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
Last Friday, I was asked to support legislation in the Senate to grant you a nearly $20,000 salary increase. Given the completely unsatisfactory pace of your department's issuance of new deepwater exploratory permits in the Gulf, I cannot possibly give my assent.
The history behind your pay raise proposal and the insider support it may have here in Washington is irrelevant. Mr. Secretary, the fact is your polices and your department's mismanagement of permits is causing more Gulf energy workers literally to lose their jobs every day.
Your current pace of permitting is abysmal by any reasonable measure whether based on the historical pace, based on the unemployment rate along the Gulf, based on $4/gallon gasoline, or based on the President's claims to support domestic energy production.
In a moment of clarity and honesty, Director Bromwich testified last week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that of the 14 deepwater permits to drill that have been issued since the BP disaster, only one was for a truly new well. The other deepwater exploratory permits are actually reissuances — they had been issued prior to the moratorium and then revoked.
Obviously, this one over the last three months (the period since deepwater permitting has reinitiated) is a pace well below the six per month issued prior to the moratorium.
Accordingly, when the rate of permits issued for new deepwater exploratory wells reaches pre-moratorium levels (so 6 per month), I will end my efforts to block your salary increase.
May 25, 2011