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Monday, May 2, 2011 

Darrell Issa: Drill, Baby, Drill


Coming up this Friday, Darrell Issa is again packing up the Oversight Committee for a trip to California. This time, it's a visit to Bakersfield for a field hearing asking "Can New And Safe Oil Extraction Technologies Help Address Gas Prices?"
Darrell Issa has a long history with mining and oil drilling, including a decade leading oversight of the Mineral Management Service. During that time, a number of scandals and management failures were discovered by others, and Darrell Issa consistently pressed for expanded oil drilling. Then, immediately after the disasterous Gulf Oil Spill a year ago, Issa began regurly claiming credit for having identified major problems at MMS years before the spill -- which he continues to brag about to this day. Of course, Issa's particular Cassandra complex on the dangers of oil drilling never stopped him from pressing for more drilling, even marking the one-year anniversary of the Gulf spill last month by calling for more drilling.
When Issa took control of the Oversight Committee several months ago, the first thing he did was send a letter to more than 150 corporate lobbyists, conservative think tanks and industry groups asking them what his committee should investigate. While Issa resisted releasing those letters, CREW assembled a number of them, including the responses from the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute.
Their top concerns? That the permitting process to increase oil drilling is too restrictive, particularly related to the potential environmental impacts. It seems as though a few months later, they're getting their hearing.
It hasn't been a good twelve months for the oil and drilling industry in many respects. The Gulf oil spill was a stark reminder of the catastrophic impact when something goes wrong, and just two weeks ago the relatively new and controversial fracking process for onshore drilling prompted a major spill in Pennsylvania, "spilling thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, personal property and farms, even where cattle continue to graze."
Last year in California, Big Oil spent millions trying to overturn California's landmark emissions law, only to lose by a 23 point margin. Also last year in Bakersfield -- where Issa's field hearing will be held -- an oil company with big plans to boost oil output failed to meet expectations and then failed to pass a local ballot measure near Santa Barbara to permit onshore-to-offshore slant drilling. Not deterred, they still plan a major investment in 2011.
Faced with all of this resistance, it's natural that these companies looking to revive the chants of Drill, Baby, Drill would turn to Darrell Issa. He's received hundreds of thousands from the Energy & Natural Resources sector over his career and has long-standing ties to the Koch Brothers and their pro-drilling, anti-environment agenda. Issa has long battled against the EPA's efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions, and was a vocal opponent of California's standard-setting pollution controls.
So on Friday, taxpayers will fund a field trip for the Darrell Issa and the Oversight Committee to Bakersfield, where he'll hold a hearing openly requested by the deep pockets of Big Oil examining ways for the country to be nicer to Big Oil. It won't be held in the Gulf region, where tar balls are still washing up on the beaches.
It won't be held in Pennsylvania, where the rush to exploit a newly-discovered deposit of natural gas spilling "thousands upon thousands of gallons" of drilling fluid into the countryside. Instead it will be in Bakersfield, California; the heart of California's oil industry. And Issa, whose job was to provide oversight of federal drilling safety standards in the years leading up to the Gulf Oil Spill will provide the stage to pitch the country that now oil drilling is safe and there should be more.


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at 5:51 pm on Wed, Oct 19, 2011Posted by Misty

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