OUR VIEW: Often times when you develop enemies on both sides of the aisle in Washington, it's a sign you're doing something right. Unfortunately for Salazar, in his case it just means he's a failure.
Complete Colorado blares a headline today we've been waiting for since the day the "wild lands" policy was shadily announced only two days before Christmas: "Salazar Reverses Wild Lands Policy." Regardless of where you stand on additional drilling of American energy resources, of which a vast majority resides on federal land, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's "wild lands" policy was troubling for democracy in general.
The policy was a straight-up bureaucratic power grab by a politician who has gone from an electoral juggernaut in Colorado to the laughing stock of Obama's Cabinet in Washington. This capitulation is clearly driven by the White House, who earlier this year gave away a one-year ban on implementing the policy already. By forcing Salazar to announce the reversal, in some ways they forced the cowboy hatted Coloradan to write his own political obituary — that of a man who has royally bungled the most important job of his political life.
We at the Peak have extensively covered the magnitude of Salazar's failed tenure and the disdain that many Obama staffers have developed for the Secretary. This forced flip-flop on "wild lands" is a major blow to Salazar and The Green Machine who hates American energy development. While we appreciate the recognition of a failed policy by the White House, environmentalists are livid over the about-face, which we appreciate even more.
Salazar has had a strange ability to make enemies on all sides of the political divide, with both his fundamentally failed leadership during the Deepwater Horizons disaster and his general approach to managing federal lands for energy development. Often times when you develop enemies on both sides of the aisle in Washington, it's a sign you're doing something right. Unfortunately for Salazar, in his case it just means he's a failure.
The federal land Salazar was attempting to block off by designating as "wild lands" is owned by the American people, not the federal bureaucrats in Washington. It is up to the American people's elected representatives to determine what land should gain the designation. The Utah Association of Counties and Uintah County were so angered by this attempt to circumvent the will of the people that they filed suit in federal court to stop it.
Attempting to rule by regulation or bureaucratic decree has become a common tactic employed by the Obama administration and its paper pushing allies ever since Congress rejected Cap and Trade energy tax legislation last session, and Congress has become even more resistant to expansive bureaucratic powers since Republicans took over the House.
Consider this a big win for democracy. It’s also a big win for Republicans, like Cory Gardner, who are taking the fight to the bureaucracies and in no uncertain terms telling them that they are overstepping their bounds and it's Congress that makes laws, not the EPA or Interior Department. This battle between bureaucrats and Congress has been a defining issue since last November and Salazar backing down is a big friggin' deal. It's a major forced concession from a man not used to being told what to do.
While Salazar's slide began with the BP spill, this time it's Salazar doing the spilling, as in his political blood, his price to pay for being an utterly incompetent administrator at the Department of Interior.