Saturday, March 24, 2007


Limp and severely weakened, I must admit to complete White House/DoJ scandal burnout during these last few days. Thankfully, another Republican scandal took a few headlines away from Abu Graiberto's streaming slurry of bullshit and created an opening to discuss the other fine use to which the Bush administration have put the federal government: serving Corporastan.

Former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, J. Steven Griles, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to Congress after he denied involvement with Jack Abramoff and that convicted felon's Indian Affairs operation. But Griles had been also quite busy in previously working to relax restrictions on oil and gas drilling in New Mexico at the behest of Yates Petroleum, New Mexico's biggest contributor to the Republican Party between 2000 and 2004 and, not coincidentally, the largest owner of drilling leases in and around the federally protected Otero Mesa region. Griles had been a lobbyist for Yates Petroleum before being appointed to the Department of the Interior and continued to receive $284,000 per year from Yates Petroleum while he was Deputy Secretary.

In a near complete reversal of a 2000 Bureau of Land Management study of Otero Mesa and shortly after Griles became Deputy Secretary, the BLM asserted that the Otero Mesa region should be opened to extensive oil and gas drilling, despite studies indicating that the potential for recoverable petroleum was "medium and low," or as the state director of the BLM called it, "small potatoes." Despite the wilderness' lack of energy potential, at $60 per bbl or more, Yates Petroleum would stand to make a goodly profit out of ravaging a unique desert habitat.

We already know the gruesome pattern of the Bush administration. Bring former industry lobbyists to regulatory agencies, who then work diligently to rewrite regulations in favour of those industries, while they falsify and obstruct studies demonstrating harmful effects of weakened regulations. Once the damage is done, these lobbyists quickly return to those industries to enjoy a period of profit and praise. This is your government, on the drug of corporate cash.

None of this behaviour caused Griles or the White House much grief, so common has such activity become. But Griles conviction serves to remind us all that many of these high level government/industry hacks have their hands in many pockets.


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