Obama: Interior reforms too slow

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Off With His Hat

Finally some sanity ~ it’ll be interesting to see whether Obama has the integrity to follow through (not holding my breath):

Obama: Interior reforms too slow ~ By Dan Berman, Politico

White House insiders say Salazar has fallen out of favor and speculate that he will be gone after November’s midterms. Obama didn’t say directly whether Salazar would still have a job, but he acknowledged the overhaul of the former Minerals Management Service — long accused of being too cozy with the oil and gas companies it regulated — took too long.

It’s not just the MMS that’s been a disgrace under Salazar’s Interior, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management,and other agencies at Interior are all failing the American public, effectively liquidating America’s environmental heritage to appease the very industries that ran the Department under the Bush Administration.

Interior: same contractors doing their NEPA on behalf of the same industries … if it smells like Bush and tastes like Bush … we’re supposed to call it “Change” ?


  1. Save bears Avatar

    With Obama’s less than stellar 18 months in office, I think his advisers are going to be telling him, that he has a lot of cabinet members are less than what the American People expected, after all, not to long after the mid terms, he is going to be gearing up to run again! As I said the other day, it is getting close to the time, to start throwing people under the bus…

  2. Mike Avatar

    Hopefully this is true and Cowboy Ken gets tossed.

  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    Why wait until after the election? He should have done it right after the oil spill.

  4. John Glowa Avatar
    John Glowa

    Obama ran on a promise that decisions would be based on science. Our Northeast Wolf Recovery Petition didn’t even get a response until some eighteen months after we sent it. The response was simply more of the same do-nothing politically motivated crap that we got from the Bush Administration. Obama had better wake up or he’ll find himself on the outside looking in in 2012.

  5. JimT Avatar

    Let the games begin. Successor’s lottery, anyone?

    Now, if we put enough pressure on Vilsack or Congress to hold hearings on the Wildlife Services..I am betting if we turn over that rock, we will see some legal abuses and financial stuff that shouldn’t be there….

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Yeah, like not using the compensation money for what it was intended for. They have to use half of it for non-lethal methods. It’s not happening.

    2. Brian Ertz Avatar

      perhaps we should put up a link to a back-page where visitors could place their bets (who is likely), as JimT suggests, and their votes (who they’d like) … 😉

      1. JimT Avatar

        I trust Ralph to hold the funds…;*)

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    If Obama had done this, his base would be out enthusiastically stomping for Democrats right now. Of course the Farm Bureau and the Cattle Association would be very unhappy, but I wonder if even 5% of these people votes Democratic regardless?

    1. Maska Avatar

      Ralph, this is precisely what Bill Richardson understands, and most other Western politicians don’t. He was willing to support Mexican wolves, protection of Otero Mesa, and other conservation initiatives because he knew the opponents weren’t voting for him in any event.

      Of course, Richardson was educated in the East, so he isn’t steeped in the typical cowboy world view.

    2. Ryan Avatar


      You’d be suprised how many farmers and ranchers vote Democrat.

      1. Brian Ertz Avatar

        maybe in the midwest – not in the west .

      2. Save bears Avatar


        I beg to differ, in Montana, they have a Democrat two time Governor, As well as one of the longest serving Senators ever, Max Baucus, then there is John Tester, who is also a democrat.. So I know for a fact, that quite a few farmers and ranchers have voted democrat, at least in Montana…

      3. JimT Avatar

        Save Bears, there are a considerable number of Democrats these days who would consider those folks you mention to be more of moderate Republicans in the old New England model.

  7. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    I’m sorry that the best choice for Obama’s head of Interior did not come to pass during the transition form Kempthorne . That would be Raul Grijalva.

    Maybe it will happen yet, after the election . He’s still serving in the House I believe, Tucson district . He deserves a better look. I hope he’s on the short list. Salazar has to go…too much an appeaser and too friendly to ranchers.

    I became a Grijalva fan when he released a report in 2008 called “The Bush Administration’s Assaults on Our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands”, which accused the Bush administration of mismanaging public land and reducing barriers to commercial access. He’s also a big advocate of long overdue 1872 Mining Act Reform.

    Maybe we can lobby Obama to give Grijalva a second shot, if he’s willing.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I agree that Grijalva is the best choice. He is also important where he is now. I wish we had two of him.

      1. Virginia Avatar

        Ken – you are right about that. I had heard that Raul was considered “endangered” for re-election. I sent him a contribution – I am no longer sending money to the Democratic party or to Obama – just to those who I feel are important to have in our Congress. I sent Russ Feingold a little cash as well – he is one of the most progressive people in the Senate and is being challenged by a republican tea party candidate.

    2. JimT Avatar

      Some of that will depend on the House make up after the election, I think. If the Dems have a razon thin margin, then I think he stays. If they lose the House, I think he would be a great candidate and would be a great move by Obama in front of the 2012 elections to mobilize the base out here.

      Just once, I would like to see someone in that office that thinks of the resource health first…

  8. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    One more thought on this, concerning states’ management of wolves.

    Last year, in April, an amendment was put in the big public lands bill to fund a program for nonlethal wolf management on a matching funds basis , as alluded above. It also included equal money to compensate ranchers for livestock losses due to wolves, I presume to offset the loss of Defenders of Wildlife private compensation for same. That program became effective on July 1, 2009 in Wyoming, Montana , and Idaho. Please note the program was to be administered by the states according to their own guidelines inside those broad directives..

    Well, one year and three months after those funds became available, it appears to me the states are using the compensation funds , but not the nonlethal control matching funds.

    My question is: How can the states’ follow the law for just the half of the bill they like, and disregard the other half they don’t like? I can’t honestly speak for Idaho and Montana, but Wyoming is all but ignoring the Nonlethal Wolf Management program and its funding ( and we have the matching money).

    My more cynical question is: This amendment as sponsored by John Barrasso R-WY( no friends to wolves ) and Jon Tester D-MT was an effort to partially address the States Rights issue regarding wolf control. To give the states the authority to manage wolves directly , albeit not by killing them. But the states have balked.

    So what does that say about the States Rights argument ? You hand them federal funds for a state-run plan and they still won’t go there? My answer is the states do not want wolf management if they can’t outright kill wolves as a first choice, or in wyomig’s case, rpetty much the only tool in the toolbox.

    What duplicity. States Rights my pink tutu… there is no pleasing the louts.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Cody Coyote and all,

    A comment on states rights. The framers of the Constitution argued that a stronger central government was needed than that provided by the Articles of Confederation, the document that the Constitution replaced. However, they did believe that the right of states within limits to try different approaches would provide “laboratories of democracy.”

    Unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out that way. There clearly are exceptions, but most of the time the “state’s rights argument” is one used by powerful national interests who know they can push state governments around more easily than the federal government, or by state and local interests who have some kind of cultural interest (like slavery) that offends most the the American nation.

    I argue in favor of state’s rights when the argument favors some interest of mine. I might even say I am upholding the great principle of state’s rights (well really, I’m not that cynical). At any rate, as an abstract principle, state’s rights is usually a bullshit argument. By that I mean a nice, shiny justification for a more base interest that is favored when states make the final political decisions.

    1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
      SEAK Mossback

      State versus federal authority is not always a clear-cut thing – there can be pluses and minuses to both. In Alaska, the whole impetus for statehood was to get out from under federal management of the salmon fisheries. They were essentially owned by big companies that had close access to federal officials in Washington, D.C. where the decisions were made, and the local fishermen were practically indentured servants. Neither the packing companies nor the fishermen showed much interest in conservation. Robbing a creek was viewed by the peasant fisherman as sort of like shooting the king’s deer while the packers’ objective of making their target case pack became the primary management objective. As runs declined sharply in the 1950s, that policy began putting serious inroads into spawning escapement. Statehood in 1959, long fought by the packers in Congress, was sort of a bloodless revolution. The fish trap, the symbol of the corporate fishery was banned and the fishery turned over to owner-operated small boat fishermen. Spawning escapement was made the pre-eminent management objective from which all else flows, and sweeping emergency authority for conservation is invested in local biologists (while a board and transparent public process were set up to deal with all allocation questions). Certainly, that system has proven much more of a “laboratory of democracy” than the one before it. However, it does not exempt us from federal oversight when it comes to our interception of salmon from other jurisdictions under the Pacific Salmon Treaty, or even the ESA in the case of chinooks bound for despoiled Lower-48 rivers.

      On the other hand, I like having a federal process with outside influence, particularly from environmental groups, in management of timber and old-growth forest in the Tongass National Forest which is really a treasure of national significance. I think local economic pressures would make it far too easy for local politicians to send the forest to the mills and Japan over the needs of habitat and wilderness protection. However, the downside is that the federal taxpayer has served as the deep pockets to subsidize massive road building at the behest of our congressional delegation and justified under bogus financial accounting procedures, and I’m not sure the state would have footed the bill for that. Still, the USFS has treaded lightly in comparison with logging practices in coastal B.C. (under the province) where salmon management is done at the federal level in a more cumbersome fashion with heavy influence out of Ottawa, while there has been no transparent public process to insulate fishery managers from allocation pressures (i.e. the queen knows best).

  10. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Ralph—I’ve never been a states rights advocate. I probably didn’t make that too clear in my post . I was just holding up a mirror to those anti-wolfers who are bleating states rights when it comes to wolf management. In my town of Cody WY and the rest of the Wyoming, that is the prevailing opinion , or at least a big part of the hue and cry to turn wild wolves into moving targets 24/7/365 , sans license or regulation. It’s also patently obvious that Democracy is not a universal solvent or a Swiss Army Knife that applies to each and every instance of government regulation… the so-called Court of Public Opinion is right up there with States Rights in too many hot button issues in the West , such as wolves.

    I don’t think we want 51 different sets of rules that change every time we cross an imaginary line on the landscape. There is already too much of that. We do not need to further “Balkanize” the American people. And speaking as bluntly as I can , I simply am appalled at the notion of my state agencies taking over some of the functions of the federal agencies in matters such as mineral permitting, grazing, water , forest management…it’s a long list , and the potential for abuse is exponential if the states had their way. Wyoming simply cannot be trusted to take a considered long term sustainable approach to anything , in its own best interests. Becasue those interests were long ago subsumed by baronials and corporations, for starters.

    You are right about states rights being a BS argument, in most instances . I’m knee deep in it . It’s the last thing we need to apply to wolves in particular and most things the Department of Interior manages in Wyoming , which I should point out is >50 percent federal land.

    I do however wish the Forest Service could be moved from Dept. of Agriculture over to Interior so the FS, BLM, Wildlife Services, and USFWS were all on the same bus. Managing the forests as ag doesn’t make much sense to me these days. , in the face of climate change and watershed management.

    A cabinet level Department of Natural Resources is a concept I’ve long held.

    1. bob jackson Avatar
      bob jackson

      I agree Cody.

      Whether it is outfitters or states right people they all resist control of their lives…but at the same time do not want the responsibility and cost involved in those rights. Basically most are just selfish people.

      Yes, I resisted mightily a lot of govt. bureaucracy crap but at the same time I always offered solutions and the work that went with those solutions.

      For example the outfitters trashed the govt trail clearing, but at the same time never did any other than ride around down trees themselves.

      The states rights folks actually don’t even know where their feelings come from….which is extended family evolutionary in origin. Thus as soon as it was states rights delegation it would be on to county rights then township then finally extended family Mc Coy-Hatfield type feuding for their “rights”.

      Thus we have strong emotions applied to issues that have only common cause as a basis for input. Emotions such as loyalty only have legitimacy in families and their relatives. Where ever loyality is asked of or demanded there will always be “betrayal”.

    2. WM Avatar


      Ah heck, as long as you want the FS in with Park Service and BLM, may as well bring along the Wildlife Services folks.

      While an umbrella Department of Natural Resources has some appeal, I think it concentrates way too much power under one roof, subject to the swinging political pendelum of ever increasing arc. That applies to both political parties.

      I have mostly viewed NPS and BLM management mandates, both in Interior, as being bookends, with the FS in the middle. This, to a great extent, applies on the landscape as well. NPS gets alot of the alpine areas; BLM the high prairie and some valley bottoms, with FS occupying much but not all of the harvestable forest lands (AK being a major exception). Not that I am a fan of big bureaucracies and overlapping functions, I get kind of queasy thinking of a future Interior under a wacko like James Watt. Think of the devastation a personality like that could do to the FS. For all of its flaws, FS has been outside a fair portion of the high profile political fights that have consumed NPS and BLM. I would think it makes more sense to pull BLM out of Interior and put its lands in FS and under Agriculture. Then everybody would have only one agency to deal with, as with the grazing permits, roads, timber, etc., of which FS seems to have the bulk anyway.

      BLM has mostly been Interior’s stepchild in some respects. I also think BLM lands managed out of Interior might result in some needed housecleaning, that would probably even give a little better balance to Interior.

      I guess a parallel would be consolidation of the Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force. Think about the overlapping functions of these branches. They operate reasonably well (but certainly not perfectly) under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    3. JimT Avatar

      FS should be with Interior. Wildlife Services should be disbanded like MMS, and its functions distributed within exiting sub agencies. There is simply too much bad culture there, just like MMS, to try and reform.

  11. JimT Avatar

    Let me throw another name in the hat that wasn’t available because of an alleged scandal…Richardson from NM. Isn’t he out after this election?

    BTW, does anyone know what happened to that whole scandal thing that cost him a shot in the Admin?

    1. Maska Avatar

      Richardson is termed out. The lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, is running for guv. She comes from Hobbs, in the heart of the eastern oil patch (known by some as little Texas). She is by no means as good an advocate for conservation as Richardson. Her opponent, Susana Martinez, the DA of Dona Ana County (Las Cruces) has taken buckets of money from Texas oil interests. Not much real choice for voters—at least for those to whom conservation issues are very important.

      As for Richardson and various scandals—so far he has managed to avoid being indicted, but some of his friends have been in trouble to varying degrees. I don’t think he would be impossible to confirm if the Dems held the Senate with a bigger margin, but they may be lucky to hold even a majority after the election. Time will tell.

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Brian Ertz