The Spectacle Blog

Team Obama Loses the Plot

By on 5.31.10 | 9:50AM

On this Memorial Day, I see yet another story triggering in my mind the cavalier (mis)use of our nation's finest to advance a political agenda, and a dangerous one at that. As the year progresses I'm confident we will have occasion to revisit another, the effort to push military officials into claiming wisdom is found by ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty -- subjecting us to an international tribunal with express jurisdiction over U.S. domestic energy and transport policy and activities, among other menaces.

Today's example, however, begins with the report by Grenwire on something about which, at least thematically, I can honestly say I told you so. Specifically, regarding former MMS head Liz Birnbaum:

Birnbaum acquaintances, angered by the sudden ouster, said she had not been ordered to clean house at the scandal-stained agency, but to promote renewable energy. In particular, she was tasked with handling the politically charged issue of siting the 25-mile "Cape Wind" wind farm off Cape Cod, the MMS issue where Salazar was most active before the spill. In April, Salazar ended nearly a decade of regulatory battles by green-lighting the project.

Now with Obama's Interior team taking heat for not cleaning house at an agency notorious for its cozy ties with industry, they say she took the fall.

"She's being made a scapegoat," said one acquaintance.

Her focus on the Cape Wind project is supported by the fact that it was the first thing Salazar mentioned about Birnbaum as he praised her service to the committee.

"She helped us on issues of offshore wind in the Atlantic," Salazar said. "All I can really tell the committee is she is a good public servant."

For the military angle, stay with me here. In "Power Grab: How Obama's Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America", I detail absurd stances articulated by senior administration officials which if followed -- as this and other activities indicate was the case -- would doom us to the unhappy and thoroughly avoidable fate of others who have blazed this reckless trail. In the United Kingdom, for example, that lot are now confronting its looming blackouts, to come possibly in time for the summer 2012 Olympics in London if their economy recovers in time (that particular chapter, Chapter 2 "Renewable Fools, begins with a rollicking exposé of the even more witless scribblings of the NYT's green scold and windmill fetishist Tom Friedman).

The Brits pursued the, er, "plan" of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Obama's appointee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Jon Wellinghoff, both of whom have declared the United States has no need of new nuclear or coal base-load electricity generation. They sneer at building coal and nuclear -- which work and provide baseload power --on the promise of some massive, future littering of the Atlantic seaboard with massive windmills.

And in pursuit of this agenda, the administration just this month sent Navy officials out to say that drilling rigs off Virginia's coast would interfere with naval operations, posing a national security issue, and we'd better not do it. Yet this was timed, with breakthaking hypocrisy, with a push to say that we really ought to litter the the same space with wind farms which, as you might imagine, pose a slightly greater navigational challenge and for far less and absurdly uneconomical gain.

The Virginia OCS and surrounding area, was the only region actually left open for consideration by Obama for the next five-year plan (beginnin in 2012...no, despite the spin lapped up by the press, he opened not one area for drilling but effectively re-imposed moratoria). And that was before Obama's latest decision to shelve those few offshore drilling projects that had made it through the pipeline in recent years  and appeared imminent. A further compounded element of this, kicking the Gulf's economy when it's down, included shuttering 33 existing rig operations; the scarce rigs which will now head off to China, Brazil, wherever their political class are less unserious about the critical issue of energy. Probably not to be seen in these parts for quite some time.

To put the economic and security concerns represented in Obama's offshore drilling policy decision-making into a very tight and rudely blunt nutshell, being left to import oil from the Saudis and Venezuelans is apparently preferable to importing shrimp from the Vietnamese. That his MMS head was tasked with forcing symbolic windfarms instead of core operations -- Minerals Management -- is reminiscent of BP, and its old global warming Doppelganger Enron, and what happened when they, too, lost the plot and spent their time and resources on similar frivolites. Nothing good comes of this lack of seriousness.

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