HH: I’m joined now by the Senator from Louisiana, David Vitter. Welcome back, Senator Vitter, it’s great to have you.
DV: Thanks, Hugh, thanks for the invite.
HH: You know, I just had your colleague, Senator Inhofe, on, and he’s pretty cocky about those Oklahoma teams in the BCS rankings. I wonder if you two talk to each other on this stuff at all.
DV: (laughing) Well Hugh, I just have one request. Please invite us back in early January, because I’ll get to be the one who’s cocky then. I look forward to that.
HH: Oh, there’s a Big Ten team out there in your future somewhere. Senator, tell the audience, I went over it with Senator Inhofe, but this is a very important letter, the origin of this, and what you intend to accomplish by calling the administration on their scientific manipulations.
DV: Sure, Hugh. Well you know, at the beginning of this administration, President Obama and several of his appointees, like the White House Science Advisor, John Holdren, made very clear, and they personally promised, that sound science would be an absolute pillar of this administration. And they had very harsh criticism for the Bush administration in particular, for what they claimed was unsound science. And they bent over backwards to very specifically promise and commit to sound science being an absolute pillar of the administration. Unfortunately, their practice has not lived up to their word at all. And there have been time after time, instance after instance, where this administration has actually fudged the science, politicized the science. The instance that hits closest to home for me in Louisiana has to do with the drilling moratorium, when the White House actually took a report by experts appointed by the President, and altered that report in the White House, to make it seem like those experts favored the drilling moratorium, when they absolutely did not. And we’ve had several IG reports, and other objective reports, point this out, this instance, as well as other instances. So this letter highlights those concerns, those problems, and asks the administration to come clean and really respond to it.
HH: You know, Senator, when I’m not on the radio or teaching, I’m an Endangered Species lawyer, so I know the Central Valley story very well.
HH: I’ve been up to Fresno. I know that. I’m so glad you two, and Congressman Issa, have focused on the opinion of Judge Wanger here…
HH: …because it is, it’s devastating what he says.
DV: Absolutely, and that’s another specific instance we include in the letter. We talked about four specific instances that are big, big examples of this use of politicized, unsound science. And that’s a very important one, and specifically, Judge Wanger’s decision in federal court, September 16, 2011, very recently ruled on the lack of quality of the scientific work done at Interior in that case.
HH: Now this is not limited to one species case, though.
DV: No, no.
HH: This is all over – gnat catchers, eagles, you name it. They manipulate the science.
HH: How does the Senate and the House, assuming you get the majority back in 2012, how do you attack this set of problems?
DV: Well, I serve on the Environment & Public Works Committee with Jim Inhofe. I can tell you virtually every hearing we have, we run right at it already, and talk about the need for sound science, and bring into light those instances where this administration, this EPA, this Interior Department, are not using sound science. They’re using New York Times political science. And so once we get in the majority, we’re going to have more leverage, more power, to hold any administration accountable, and demand sound science. People need to have confidence that scientific assessments are truly just that. They’re unbiased, scientific assessments based on sound science, not based on a political agenda.
HH: I don’t know if you’ve had a chance, yet, Senator, to look at the Sackett V. EPA case, which is up before the Supreme Court. But it’s another, here, the Army Corps of Engineers, or the EPA, is declaring a wetlands that’s not a wetland, and screwing this private landowner, completely…
HH: It’s almost as though that President Obama brought with him 10,000 zealots and sprinkled them over the regulatory agencies, and said go out and create havoc.
DV: Well, 10,000 may be a lowball number, too. That’s the sad thing. We see this over and over again. And again, it’s particularly bad at EPA, also the Corps of Engineers, which you mentioned, and definitely the Interior Department. And we see it instance after instance. This letter just highlights four of the worst cases.
HH: Has the national news media picked up on this letter yet?
DV: They’re beginning to. We just sent it yesterday, and we’re getting a lot of interest and a lot of inquiries, so they’re beginning to.
HH: Now every science writer in the country should look at this, and do a truth squad.
HH: I’m sure you’re very confident…
DV: Look, no matter what folks’ politics are, everybody should support the consensus position that these things need to be based on sound science. And if we start and allow the politicization of the science in these departments, none of these agencies, none of these departments, are going to have any credibility going into the future, and they’ve lost an enormous amount of credibility already. And that’s really a shame.
HH: I want to build on, while we have just a couple of more minutes, on the permitorium issue.
HH: The administration came out not long ago and said that the permit slowdown hadn’t cost and jobs in the Gulf. They said you know, yeah it was slow, but then we got it back. And they cited the number of rigs that are operating. What’s your response to that, Senator Vitter?
DV: Well, as somebody who lives in the Gulf, I know full well that that’s just wrong. 11 huge deep water rigs have left the Gulf. There are 500 direct jobs attached to every one that’s left the United States. There are thousands and thousands of indirect jobs. We have independent studies that show that the line of people standing in line for permits is 90% longer than it was before the formal moratorium, that it takes much longer to get a permit, the pace of permit is down about 65% compared to before the formal moratorium. So those are the facts. And you know, the administration can try to spin it and use selective data, and selective statistics all they want. But those are the facts. And of course, people who actually live in the Gulf and depend on this industry, directly or indirectly, absolutely know that in their gut, because they live it every day.
HH: Last question, Senator Vitter. As you see the Gulf strangled, and you see a half billion dollars going to Solyndra and these other funny money grants, is there any anger towards the administration for taking the money from Louisiana, and sending it to their buddies on the West Coast?
DV: There’s enormous frustration and anger from me and folks whose livelihoods are directly affected in the Gulf. You know, domestic energy production is a huge potential for a win-win-win. Not a solid hit, not even a two-fer, but a three-fer. It’s domestic energy, more energy independence, it’s great American jobs right here at home, and it’s even revenue to the federal government to help lower deficit and debt, because royalty on domestic energy production is the second biggest source of revenue after only the income tax. So it’s a major solution of those three problems – energy, jobs, deficit reduction.
HH: Good luck on getting a response on the letter, Senator David Vitter. Thanks for joining us on short notice.
End of interview.