Salazar says U.S. energy policy has failed — unveils new rules

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday unveiled tough new regulations regarding offshore drilling.

“We are raising the bar for safety, oversight and environmental protection at every stage of the drilling process,” he said in a speech in Washington.

The former senator from Colorado told The New York Times that he doesn’t expect the industry to like the new rules. “We’ll hear from industry that the regulations are too onerous, but the fact is, it’s a new day. There is the pre-April 20 framework of regulations and the post-April 20 framework, and the oil and gas industry better get used to it, because that’s the way it’s going to be,” he said.

April 20 was the day the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up, causing the biggest oil spill in American history — and killing 11 people.

“The Deepwater Horizon spill also lays bare a more fundamental challenge that we must confront as a nation. Our energy policy has failed us, time and time again, for decades,” Salazar said.

Before being appointed to his post at Interior, Salazar held the U.S. Senate seat now held by Michael Bennet.

“We are falling behind China and India in the race for clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs,” Salazar said.

Salazar touted the need to move faster developing clean energy, even pointing to a plant in Pueblo that manufactures wind turbine towers and will ultimately employ 500 people, he said. Still, Salazar recognized the need to continue to produce oil and gas in the U.S., but said it needs to be done with “stronger protections for the environment.”

He said the new rules announced this week are “the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history.”

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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