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Democratic Lawmaker Blasts Salazar For Calling Big Oil ‘Kings of the World’

3:47 PM EST on January 7, 2010

When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday that his department would conduct stricter environmental reviews before leasing federal land to oil and gas producers, he added a comment that few in the Democratic party might contest:

AP040727016962.jpgRep. Dan Boren (D-OK) (Photo: NewsGroper)

In the prior administration the oil and gas industry were the kings of the world. Whatever they wanted to happen, happened.

After all, the Bush administration presided over an undeniable boom time for the oil and gas industry, which won the right to drill in polar bear habitat, near protected Utah parkland, and along the domestic coastline (a plan nixed after the 2008 election) -- not to mention $2.7 billion in tax breaks as part of the 2005 energy bill.

But one Democrat took particular offense; Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) fired off an irate letter to Salazar today, calling the comment "beyond the pale" and "a slap in the face" to his state's oil and gas companies.

Earlier this year, Boren went beyond mere opposition to the House climate change bill, telling a local business group that it was "the worst piece of legislation I've seen since I've been" in Washington.

From Boren's statement:

The energy industry is overwhelmingly made-up of independentproducers that drill 90 percent of the wells in the U.S. They are themom-and-pop outfits that run a handful of wells, the young entrepreneurseeking to expand his operation, or the regional company that employshundreds or even thousands of people in communities across the nation.

Imagery aside, Boren's claim that 90 percent of U.S. drilling is conducted by independent producers comes from the Energy Department. But the board of directors of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the trade group that represents that sector of the industry, contains companies that look far different from the "mom-and-pop outfits" Boren describes.

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