Salazar: House GOP subpoena about ‘politics’

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar blasted House Republicans Tuesday for subpoenaing the administration for documents related to a 2010 report on the post-oil-spill deepwater drilling moratorium.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) sent the subpoena to the Interior Department Tuesday. Republicans on the panel voted to authorize the subpoena last week.

“From my point of view, what the House Natural Resources Committee is doing is simply a distraction in the name of politics,” Salazar said. “But we will do everything we can to cooperate with the committee.”

Salazar said the subpoena is not of “significant importance” when compared to other pressing energy issues like expanding renewable energy.

The subpoena seeks all documents related to a 2010 report that erroneously suggested outside engineers had endorsed the deepwater drilling moratorium. The moratorium was imposed in the aftermath of the massive BP oil spill. The drilling ban was lifted in October 2010 but permitting did not begin again until February 2011.

Republicans have criticized the administration for issuing the moratorium, arguing it was an overreaction to the spill. They’ve pounced on the report, which recommended the six-month drilling ban.

Interior’s inspector general noted in a late 2010 report that Interior officials who were interviewed said they never intended to leave the impression that the outside reviewers backed the ban.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar subsequently apologized to the engineers about the mistaken impression the report left that they had endorsed a drilling freeze. 

Ben Geman contributed to this story.