United States: Oil giants linked to interior department

“The time of big energy was supposed to have faded with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency”, Billy Wharton wrote in a May 12 www.counterpunch.org article.

“Then, a humble Coloradan, with a cowboy hat that seemed permanently affixed to his head, named Ken Salazar ambled to the microphone to accept Obama’s nomination to be the new Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI).”

Wharton said the record of Salazar, a former attorney-general for Colorado who allowed Summitville Mine Superfund to avoid paying for the clean-up of its destructive gold mining activities, reveals “direct links to the oil and coal sector”.

“Since embarking on his career as a public official in 1989, his campaign contribution record is littered with funds from the energy sector including a [US]$4,500 payment from BP ...

“However, Salazar has had two clear monetary benefactors since 1989 — the law firms Sherman & Howard and Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck (BHFS). The two have contributed $140,138 ...”

BHFS, said Wharton, “offers lobbying as well as legal services to their clients. Delta Petroleum Company
contracted BHFS in 2005 and has, since then, spent $960,000 to lobby elected officials on the issue of offshore oil drilling”.

In March, said Wharton, Salazar and Obama gave Delta what it paid for when they announced a radical expansion of offshore drilling projects all along the Eastern seaboard and in Alaska.