Skip to comments.Interior staff's top seats in limbo (Sen. Bennett clashing with Salazar over drilling)
Posted on 04/25/2009 4:31:42 AM PDT by reaganaut1
The Interior Department's Web site links to a page highlighting key officials. It's blank.
Part of the holdup stems from a clash with Utah's two senators [...].
"We have a lot of work to do and some of it is on hold simply because we don't have the personnel confirmed as of this point," Salazar said.
Sen. Bob Bennett, for one, isn't sure he wants that team in place.
Bennett has placed a hold on the nomination of David Hayes to be deputy secretary out of concern about Salazar's decision to pull back on 77 leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands in Utah.
He says it's nothing personal against Hayes, but he wants answers before he lets that nomination move forward.
"It's the only leverage we have on getting the department to pay attention on some very important issues," Bennett said. "I've made it very clear that I want to work with [Salazar] as closely as we can ... but I can't just take an assurance from him that 'oh yes, we'll settle this,' and they'll give me everything we want."
Bennett says the way Salazar canceled the lease auction has made people in Utah and other Senate colleagues -- whom he didn't name -- concerned about the department's potential future actions.
His message to Salazar is, "You have sent ripples of fear throughout the state and beyond the state on what type of administration you want with what you've done here," Bennett says.
Senate GOP colleague, Orrin Hatch, shares the concern.
Hatch also opposes Salazar's cancellation of that lease sale, arguing that Interior took the side of the environmental group Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance in opposing those leases.
(Excerpt) Read more at sltrib.com ...
The NYT has an editorial today criticizing Bennett for the hold. To me that proves Bennett is right.