Evidently, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has thin skin.
Last week, the Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based trade association of oil and gas drillers in the Rocky Mountain region, accused the DOI of inhibiting oil and gas production with the soft statism of bureaucratic foot-dragging. To read the Western Energy Alliance’s complaint, click here.
Federal agencies take flak all the time, so there’s nothing new there. What is uncommon, however, is for federal agencies to return fire. According to Politico’s Morning Energy Report,
The Interior Department is sniping back at the Western Energy Alliance, which last week accused the department of shutting down onshore oil and gas drilling. In a statement, Interior’s Bureau of Land Management said the drop in leasing was a result of declining demand during a slow economy. Then they upped the ante, taking a quote from WEA spokeswoman Kathleen Sgamma, who in February told Greenwire: “Drilling is down because of the economy. I don’t think anyone denies that.”
WEA busted back yesterday, noting that BLM had chopped their quote in half, leaving out the part where Sgamma said the restrictions would hurt supplies even after demand recovers. “I have to admit, we are a little surprised they came out swinging directly at us – not something a [government] agency does all too often,” WEA spokesman Jon Haubert told POLITICO. “I guess it’s pretty apparent we struck a nerve.”
I don’t know what I find more disconcerting: (1) that taxpayer funds were used to conduct opposition research or (2) that a federal agency twisted a quote in order to give it a meaning it didn’t originally have.
Aren’t there more pressing concerns for America’s civil service than playing politics?
William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.