Saturday, August 27, 2011

Allahpundit Responds to Liberal Writer's Challenge of "Remind me why Obama’s a bad president"

Allahpundit kicking some... Jonathan Alter:

Rather than revisit the endless “did the stimulus help or didn’t it?” debate, though, how about this for something he might have done differently: Instead of jerking around with universal health-care to make his base happy, he could have held off on big-ticket, fantastically expensive new legislation until the country was in the middle of a significant, sustainable economic recovery. Irony of ironies, the guy who packaged himself in the campaign as a problem-solving pragmatist didn’t act that way when faced with the most intractable problem of all. He let Congress take the lead on passing a porky stimulus and then, before anyone had a sense of how that would turn out, he pulled out his agenda wishlist. A true pragmatist would have realized (a) that there was some risk the stimulus wouldn’t be enough and that he’d need to ask for a second, even more politically unpalatable round of spending, and (b) that enormous stimulative bursts of government outlays would accelerate the debt crisis that’s already on the horizon and speeding up.

Instead, what’d he do? He pushed through a leviathan health-care bill on the surreal theory that it would bend the cost curve and reduce spending long-term, which no one to the right of Ezra Klein believed (and with good reason). In other words, in handling America’s two biggest challenges — economic recovery and mounting debt — he was sloppy and neglectful on the former and hideously complicit in the latter. How’s that for a successful presidency?

Imagine if he had come out in the summer of 2009, after the stimulus had passed, and announced that he intended to pursue universal health care — but not until unemployment had dropped below, say, 7.5 percent. No new sudden moves legislatively until job one, putting Americans back to work, had been taken care of. That would have bought him time with his base and endeared him to independents. Then, in preparation for taking up ObamaCare down the line, he could have declared that he wanted to work on bipartisan long-term deficit reduction to put the country back on a stronger fiscal footing. The obvious way to do that? Entitlement reform, of course — something he promised he’d take up as president.

The left wouldn’t have liked that, but O’s vow that universal health care would move to the top of the agenda once the economy had recovered would have blunted the backlash. And since Democrats controlled both houses of Congress at the time, they could have engineered an entitlement deal more to their liking than they’d get now. If they pulled it off and got something done with centrist Republicans, Obama would have earned some “fiscal responsibility” capital which he could then burn on either another stimulus as the economy stalled or as an argument to trust him on ObamaCare’s cost-saving measures.

But that would have required convincing the left that a debt crisis is a real possibility and that the only way out of it is repairing Medicare and Social Security pronto, and that’s waaaaay too much reality for the “reality-based community.” So instead O gave up and … embraced an even bigger expansion of our already dangerously bloated government. In the immortal words of the man himself : Solid B+.

A Friendly Reminder For Under-Taxed Liberals:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

New York Times: Obama Is Failing Miserably, So Let's Talk About Jesus

Anything to distract from Obama's miserable failures...

The economy is in the latrine, likewise for Obama's approval numbers, so Obama's "Journolist" fanboys at the New York Times have no choice but to change the subject and try to portray the GOP as a radical bunch of Dixiecrat crucaders whose judgement is clouded by tribal superstitions.

Hugh Hewitt explains:
Former editor of the New York Times Bill Keller is out with a piece that encourages his colleagues in the Manhattan-Beltway media elite to do their best to stoke the fires of religious intolerance by turning this presidential campaign into the occasion for an inquisition into all of the Republican's religious beliefs...

Having just returned from Jerusalem where one thinks a lot about the consequences of religious intolerance, Keller's naked appeal to prejudice is startling to me. Can he not know --really not know-- how his lines of inquiry play out and how they have always preceded the worst sort of religious intolerance?
So the New York Times thinks folks running for high office should answer obnoxious questions about their religious background?

Fair enough!

Let's ask Barack Hussein a few questions. He's an important guy in politics, right? Other conservative bloggers have already come up with a bunch of good questions ― here are mine:
How does your "Christian faith" distinguish your thinking from that of atheists and agnostics?
How does your "Christian faith" distinguish your thinking from that of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews?
Do your religiopolitical views on "social justice" make you vulnerable to faith-based political decisions?
You said, "It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work." Do your relationships with your brother and other family members reflect your Christian faith?
How do your deeply held religiopolitical beliefs interfere with your ability examine scientific issues with appropriate skepticism (e.g. AGW)?
How many times did you attend services at Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church?
Do you support or believe in Black Liberation Theology? Why or why not?
Your spiritual adviser, Jim Wallis, runs a blog called "God's Politics." Do you believe that Jim's politics should be described as "God's politics?" Do you believe that your politics can be described as "God's politics?"
Describe your relationship with Jim Wallis. How has he influenced your administration? Do you disagree with Jim Wallis on any issues?
When you refer to people who "cling to religion" what does that phrase mean? Do you harbor antipathy toward people who, in your view, fit that description? Are you someone who refrains from clinging to religion?
Would you have any hesitation about appointing a religiously conservative church-going Southern Baptist to the federal bench?
Many religious leaders who are close to you and your administration believe that their religious views should shape public policy. Do you believe that your ability to maintain the wall of separation between Church and State has been compromised by your relationships with religious leaders?
What, if anything, do you do to keep your religion out of your decisions in the Oval Office?
John has a score of great questions over at Verum Serum. Here are the ones I like best:
1. Do you believe the God of the Christian Bible is the same as the God of the Koran? Does this view influence your foreign policy?
4. Do you believe, as some liberals churchmen do (including some you’ve consulted with), that socialism is the system most compatible with the Gospels? Does this influence your public policy and if so how?
10. How do you integrate your faith with a scientific worldview including belief in evolution?
15. Do you believe Christ will return to earth in the future?
Bryan Preston adds this one: "What did you find so appealing and comforting about the preachings of the Reverent Jeremiah Wright?"

The fact that Obama is already in the White House should not exempt him from difficult questions about his religious and spiritual views. In fact, I would argue precisely to the contrary.

The momentum of Two and a Half Years of Obama failure builds

The latest Rasmussen poll has President Obama at 19% strong approval versus 45% strong disapproval, for a Presidential Approval Index rating of -26. The polling firm declares this “the lowest Approval Index rating yet measured for President Obama,” noting that “the previous low was -24, reached yesterday and also in September 2010.”

Some interesting polling numbers on issues came in as well:

Only 20% think government anti-poverty programs reduce poverty. Seventy-one percent (71%) believe too many people get welfare who should not be getting it. Only 18% believe the opposite is true. Fifty-nine percent (59%) think immigrants who follow the law and enter the United States legally should have to wait three years or more before collecting welfare benefits.

Forty-two percent (42%) of American Adults believe corporations pay too little in taxes, while 24% feel they pay too much. Most (59%) think it is better to have lower corporate tax rates and very few deductions than to have higher tax rates and lots of deductions. Seventy-nine percent (79%) recognize that corporations generally pass higher taxes along to their customers in the form of higher prices.

The percentages who recognize that corporate taxes are passed along to customers, and simpler taxes with lower rates would be superior to the current system, are encouraging. The Obama method of vast government spending and complex regulation appears to be suffering the same kind of rejection as the President himself. His endless bleating about corporate jets doesn’t seem to have gotten him anywhere with the electorate.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll has Obama losing the 2012 election to Mitt Romney, tying with Rick Perry, and only narrowly edging out Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. Until now, Obama has only suffered that kind of poll beating against the mysterious right-wing superhero known as Generic Republican.

The momentum of failure is difficult for Obama to escape. Public impressions of candidates form in strange ways. The media can consciously influence this process, but they don’t fully control it. People can only hear the same old excuses wheeze out of Obama so many times before they conclude there is nothing to be gained by listening to him anymore. They can only hear the same old failed policies repeated so many times before it all becomes a meaningless hiss of white noise. That’s a bad place for any re-election campaign to be.

Obama partisans have tried to claim victory in various public-relations battles, only to miss how thoroughly they were losing the war. The elder George Bush went through something similar, when dealing with his own economic woes. The aura of disengagement and ineffectuality hung around him like a political burial shroud, causing even people who didn’t “hate” him to tune out.

The legendary grocery store checkout incident, in which some polite interest in bar code scanners by President Bush was transformed into a caricature about an out-of-touch elitist who had clearly never been in a grocery store, provides a useful example. It didn’t just stick to him because the media pushed the story hard. It stuck because so many people had already formed that conclusion about Bush. The momentum that swept him out of office had become irresistible, and Bill Clinton knew how to ride the wave.

Something similar is happening to the media’s most beloved President, the man they carried across the finish line with gusto in 2008. There’s nothing good for them to spin. There’s no way to put a happy face on his utterly catastrophic decision to party in Martha’s Vineyard while the American economy groans through the Obama Depression. There’s no way to spin his absurd “bus tour” as anything but a pointless waste of taxpayer money. His hollow pose of post-partisan unifying idealism was lost forever in the bitter debt-ceiling battle. His speeches have become a drinking game played with bottles of milk of magnesia.

An angry public might be finessed. It’s tough to win them back after they grow bored.

See if you can solve our Puzzle o' the Day!

Who Am I?

What is addicted to:

Grey Goose martinis...

Swedish massages...

Skiing in Vail...

Being accompanied by dozens of hunky bodyguards...

Relaxing for days on end in 5-Star Spas...

While enjoying endless carafes of rich, sparkling wines...

And the very finest cuisine...

All while vacationing on the taxpayers' dime (spending $10 million in the last year alone)?

That would our beloved, ultra-classy, non-pandering, non-class-warrior, non-hypocritical First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Who vacations with her husband, a man known for vilifying "millionaires and billionaires", "corporate jet owners", "yacht owners", and others with whom they hobnob on a regular basis.

While billing you, your children and your grandchildren for the privilege.

You may want to file this under 'Remember in 2012'.

Obama’s EPA Imposes Cap & Trade

Remember Cap & Trade? Obama promised to use it to make energy costs “skyrocket” — with predictable effects on the entire economy. From before his catastrophic election:

“…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket … even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal power plants, natural gas … you name it … whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations.

“That will cost money … they will pass that money on to the consumers. You can already see what the arguments are going to be during the general election. People will say Obama and Al Gore … these folks … they’re going to destroy the economy.”

Yes, that is what any reasonable person would say. Unfortunately reasonable people are in short supply these days, or this socialist saboteur would not have been elected president. Even so, Cap & Trade was so obviously a deliberately orchestrated disaster that it could not pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate.

No matter. As with amnesty for illegal aliens, Obama just imposes his malevolent will through the backdoor. Unlike Senators, the malignant ideologues of the EPA have no accountability to the public, so they’ve been doing the dirty work. Here’s how it’s playing out in Wisconsin:

Two state utilities said this week new federal pollution rules will lead to higher electricity costs come January. …

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month finalized stronger regulations for Wisconsin and 26 other states aimed at curbing air pollution from long-distance sources. …

Nationwide, the EPA estimated that utilities are projected to spend $800 million on the rule in 2014, in addition to $1.6 billion a year that’s been spent to satisfy an earlier version of the regulations.

Needless to say, the real numbers will be much larger than the EPA’s official estimates.

The new rule has been in development for several years but the first phase of compliance hits utilities in 2012. WPS [energy provider Wisconsin Public Service Corp.] said it won’t have time to install pollution controls by next year at its plants, but will be able to comply by purchasing credits from other utilities that have cut emissions.

Sounds kind of like Cap & Trade, doesn’t it?

The utility also said it plans to operate its coal plants less next year than it otherwise would have, and will buy more power from the Midwest wholesale power market as a result, a move that it said is also a factor in higher costs for customers.

“This is the best option we have to meet power supply needs for 2012 and comply with the new EPA rule at this time,” said Karen Kollmann, WPS director of fuels management in a statement.

On Thursday, Wisconsin Power & Light Co. of Madison said it would face an additional $9 million in costs linked to the air pollution rule.

To keep people from getting quite angry enough to do something about it, the worst of the damage is being directed at those we have been conditioned by the Marxist media to hate: job creators.

Todd Stuart, executive director of the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, criticized the increases, and he noted that large energy users like paper mills will see higher than average increases, compared with homeowners and small businesses. Paper mills served by WPS could see a 9% hike, he said.

As always when our anti-capitalist rulers target industry, all of us will be effected through higher prices and unemployment.

The unfolding disaster is of such a scale that even the Washington Post has noticed it:

Over the next 18 months, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize a flurry of new rules to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants. Mercury, smog, ozone, greenhouse gases, water intake, coal ash — it’s all getting regulated. And, not surprisingly, some lawmakers are grumbling.

Industry groups such the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, and the American Legislative Exchange Council have dubbed the coming rules “EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck.” The regulations, they say, will cost utilities up to $129 billion and force them to retire one-fifth of coal capacity. Given that coal provides 45 percent of the country’s power, that means higher electric bills, more blackouts and fewer jobs.

This while unemployment remains in the stratosphere, inflation climbs, and the economy staggers toward collapse under the crushing weight of a monstrously bloated government that arrogantly disregards the public’s will and interests.

Even if the adolescent autocrat in the White House were removed from office — or rather from the golf course — tomorrow, it would take years of determined work to get the better of a bureaucracy committed to choking the economy until it stops breathing altogether.

Written By : Dave Blount

THE IMPORTANCE OF independent bloggers.

It’s lonely out here in independent blogger world, working for the greater glory not the greater paycheck.

That’s not to say bloggers who work for The Man are not independent thinkers and writers, but the pressures are there depending upon who The Man is:

An escalating series of insults and allegations exchanged between conservative blogger Erick Erickson and defenders of Virginia Senate candidate Jamie Radtke has taken an overt turn into Republican presidential politics, becoming the first publicly waged proxy battle between forces sympathetic to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and those inclined to align with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

It all began on Wednesday when Politico published an email that Erickson, the influential editor of and a CNN contributor, sent to Radtke earlier this month. The email made clear that Erickson intended to soften his previously espoused support for Radtke, who is competing in a Republican primary against George Allen for Allen’s old Senate seat.

In the leaked email, Erickson explained to Radtke that “my bosses are huge Allen friends,” and thus he would have to be “delicate” when Radtke made the rounds at his RedState convention in mid-August in Charleston, S.C. — the venue where Perry officially announced his presidential candidacy.

I’m not buying into the Perry v. Palin angle on the story.

What I find interesting is that a highly successful and influential blogger like Erick Erickson felt the need to temper his opinions to accomodate his bosses’ political preferences.

I’ll never get the traffic or cash flow of RedState, and policitans are not exactly beating down my door to get my endorsement, but what you read is what I think.

Update: As pointed out in the comments, even independent bloggers can be subject to pressures, as in the case of Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, Big Law Firm Takes Down Big Conservative Blogger. The apparent retaliation against Mirengoff is not the same to me as the situation described in Erickson’s email where he acknowedged specific pressure on a specific political issue and changed his expressed opinion as a result.

Posted by William A. Jacobson

North Carolina Governor Declares Every Concealed Carry Permit in eastern NC Invalid Due to Hurricane Irene

Thanks to a brain-dead state law foisted upon us by a Democratic state legislature (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-288.7), every time the governor—in this instance, Democrat Beverly Perdue—declares a state of emergency, it is illegal from that moment onward to carry a concealed weapon until the state of emergency has been declared over.
14-288.7. Transporting dangerous weapon or substance during emergency; possessing off premises; exceptions.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area:

(1) In which a declared state of emergency exists; or

(2) Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.

(b) This section does not apply to persons exempted from the provisions of G.S. 14-269 with respect to any activities lawfully engaged in while carrying out their duties.

(c) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

We've dealt with this bit of Democrat-generated stupidity before.

Governor Purdue made this declaration while the state was at work, meaning everyone who has a carry permit and lives east of Interstate 95 who was away from home instantly became a criminal by proclamation.

If we look at Google Maps, that means that a carry permit holder in Wilson dining at the Cracker Barrel is perfectly legal, but the permit holder a block to the east filling up on gas at the Kangaroo Express is now a criminal.


Update: I'd forgotten we were stuck with this crap last year as well.

Visitor Logs Show Obama Had 230 Visitors To Use White House Bowling Lanes During May Alone…


(ABC News) — As a candidate in 2008, President Obama pledged to tear out the White House bowling alley and install a basketball court instead.

Just over three years later, the basement bowling alley President Truman installed in 1947 is still there — and apparently being put to good use.

At least 230 visitors to the White House during May came for the express purpose of bowling, according to visitor logs released today.

In fact, the underground alley was used every day of the month, except five — May 14, 16, 18, 21 and 22.

On two days, May 15 and 23, the visitor entries indicate “bowling party.”

Obama’s War on Transparency

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Is the Justice Department Partnering with Scandal-Plagued Project Vote?

That is the question at the center of a new Judicial Watch investigation.

On August 19, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain records related to the agency’s communications with Estelle Rogers, a former ACORN attorney who currently serves as the Director of Advocacy for the ACORN-connected organization Project Vote, President Obama’s former employer.

Judicial Watch is investigating the extent to which the Obama DOJ and Project Vote are partnering in a national campaign to use the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) to register more individuals on public assistance, widely considered a key voting block for the Obama 2012 campaign.

Here’s what we’re after with our FOIA request filed on June 23, 2011: “All records of communications between the Department of Justice and Estelle Rogers, Director of Advocacy for Project Vote. The timeframe for this request is January 2, 2009, to June 23, 2011.”

The DOJ was required by law to respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request within 30 working days, or by August 5, 2011. (U.S. Postal Service records indicate the DOJ received Judicial Watch’s request on June 28, 2011.) As of the lawsuit’s filing, the DOJ has neither produced the records requested nor responded with the date when they will be forthcoming. (Nothing new there.)

Now, we already know that Project Vote is corrupt. We also know that the organization is putting a full-court press on key swing states to manipulate voter registration laws in order to “get out the vote” for Obama and the Democrats in 2012. And leading that charge is Estelle Rogers.

Rogers, a former attorney for ACORN, is a primary contact person on policy matters at Project Vote on both state and federal levels and has been actively involved in voter registration issues. By threatening lawsuits under Section 7 of the NVRA, Project Vote has aggressively sought to force election officials in various states to increase the registration of people receiving public assistance. (Under Section 7, states are required to offer voter registration services at all public assistance agencies, including unemployment offices and food stamp offices.)

And this corrupt campaign is working.

Just a few weeks ago, Judicial Watch released documents obtained from the Colorado Department of State showing that ACORN and Project Vote successfully pressured Colorado officials into implementing new policies for increasing the registration of public assistance recipients during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons. Following the policy changes, the percentage of invalid voter registration forms from Colorado public assistance agencies was four times the national average! Project Vote also sought a “legislative fix” to allow people without a driver’s license or state identification to register to vote online.

This is nothing new. Project Vote and ACORN have both been linked to serious incidents of voter registration fraud, including criminal activity. In fact, Project Vote’s “Field Director” Amy Busefink, who handled the online registration campaign for Colorado, entered an Alford plea to two gross misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters in Nevada while working for ACORN. (An Alford plea is a guilty plea where the defendant does not admit the act or assert innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)

In addition to pursuing public agency registration cases in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia and New Mexico, Project Vote also filed a lawsuit on April 19, 2011, in partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), against the State of Louisiana alleging violations of the NVRA.

And where does the DOJ fit into all of this? That’s what we’re investigating.

We do know that less than three months after the Project Vote/NAACP Louisiana lawsuit, on July 12, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division/Voting Section sued the state on the same grounds, claiming that “Louisiana officials have not routinely offered voter registration forms, assistance and services to the state’s eligible citizens who apply, recertify or provide a change address for public assistance or disability services.”

The DOJ had previously sued the State of Rhode Island on March 11, 2011, alleging violations of the NVRA. (Project Vote posted a nice little press release on its website promoting the lawsuit.) Ultimately, the DOJ lawsuit led to policy changes intended to increase the number of voter registration applications processed by “public assistance and disability service officers.” These two lawsuits, filed within five months of each other, are the first such lawsuits filed by the DOJ since 2007. So it’s not as if this is a common practice.

In our opinion, there is certainly the appearance that Project Vote and the Obama DOJ are working in tandem in the lead-up to the 2012 elections. After all, this is the same DOJ that partnered with the ACLU to attack Arizona over its get-tough illegal immigration law and with the NAACP on the decision to drop its voter intimidation lawsuit against the Black Panthers. This DOJ, like no other, is owned and operated by radical leftist special interest groups.

And remember, Barack Obama has deep connections to Project Vote. He served as the Illinois Executive Director of Project Vote in 1992. His campaign paid more than $800,000 to an ACORN organization to help “get out the vote” in his successful primary campaign against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Our concern is that Project Vote’s activities remain a threat to the integrity of our elections. The fact that Project Vote is bullying states to attack election security reforms in order to register Obama’s “Food Stamp Army” comes as no surprise. But it appears that the Obama DOJ is using the same playbook as Project Vote – to the detriment of clean elections.

The American people deserve to know if the nation’s highest law enforcement agency has become nothing more than a political tool to help this scandalous ACORN-front group re-elect Barack Obama. And yet again, this DOJ can’t seem to be bothered to comply with basic open records FOIA law. So we are now in court to force them to respond.

Incredibly, the day after we announced our lawsuit, the Obama campaign announced that it would be running its own voter registration drive under the very name of “Project Vote.” If the Obama campaign doesn’t care if it is identified with the same “Project Vote” that did so much to try to corrupt the 2008 presidential elections, then one ought to be concerned about what is in store for the integrity of our elections next year!

JW Sues to Find out How Much Taxpayers Spent on Michelle Obama’s Family Trip to Africa

In June, while members of Congress and the Obama White House were debating how to save the country from the debt ceiling crisis, First Lady Michelle Obama decided to take a nice little family vacation to South Africa and Botswana. Of course, the Obama administration line was that this trip was all business. But given the fact that Michelle Obama’s family members were along for the ride, visiting tourist sites around the two countries…well, forgive me for being suspicious.

And how much did all of this cost? We don’t know.

That’s why this week Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the United States Air Force to obtain records related to the trip (which took place June 21-27, 2011). Judicial Watch is seeking the documents to determine details about the trip, and in particular, a breakdown of the costs to taxpayers.

Specifically we’re after the following information through our FOIA request (filed on June 28, 2011):
Any and all records concerning mission taskings of First Lady Michelle Obama’s June 21-27, 2011 trip to South Africa and Botswana.
Any and all records concerning transportation costs for Mrs. Obama’s June 21-27, 2011 trip to South Africa and Botswana.
Any and all passenger manifests (DD-2131) for Mrs. Obama’s June 21-27, 2011 trip to South Africa and Botswana.

The Air Force acknowledged receiving our request on July 6, 2011. A response to the request was due within 20 working days, or by August 3, 2011. However, as of August 19, 2011, the date of the complaint, the Air Force has failed to produce the records requested or respond with a date that they will be forthcoming.

Michelle Obama claimed the reason for the trip was to encourage young people living in South Africa and Botswana to get involved in national affairs. However, accompanied by her daughters Malia and Sasha; her mother, Marian Robinson; and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, the trip also included such tourist events as visits to historical landmarks and museums, as well as a visit with Nelson Mandela, described by Mrs. Obama as “surreal.” The trip ended with a private family safari at a South African game reserve before the group returned to Washington on June 27.

In the face of a ballooning federal debt and a sinking economy, our question is simple but important: How much did the trip cost?

An analysis by White House Dossier (the blog of White House reporter Keith Koffer, who writes for CongressDaily, National Journal, Roll Call and Politico), the cost to taxpayers for the C-32, the specially configured military version of the Boeing 757 that transported the Obama group back and forth to Africa, cost $430,000 alone. This cost is based on an estimated charge of $12,723 an hour, which is what the Department of Defense charges other federal agencies for use of the aircraft.

If a military cargo plane was included – which typically accompanies a First Lady – the cost of transportation could have escalated by another $200,000, which brings the total to $600,000.

Overall, White House Dossier estimates the total cost could be as high as $800,000, but notes that certain costs, such as Secret Service protection, the care and feeding of staff people, and pre-trip advance work done by administration officials in Africa, cannot be determined without examining records.

That’s why we filed our lawsuit.

On the surface, the trip seems to have been totally unnecessary and was as much an excuse for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a mission intended to advance the nation’s business in Africa. That’s why we’re after the “mission taskings” information as well. (And, yes, we’re also investigating Mrs. Obama’s controversial vacation trip to Spain that took place last year.)

This is not the first time the Obamas have been accused of wasting taxpayer dollars for personal benefit in the middle of the financial crisis. Remember their infamous “date night” in 2009? Judicial Watch uncovered how the First Couple spent $11,000 taxpayer dollars in Secret Service costs alone so they could go from here in DC up to New York for dinner and a Broadway show. Press reports suggest the President and his entourage, which included White House staff and the press corps, used three military aircraft for the jaunt.

I’ve often said that at the center of the problem of corruption is a sense of entitlement on the part of our elected officials. The Obamas felt entitled to their date night, so who cares if it was on the taxpayer’s dime? Michelle Obama felt entitled to a high-six-figure (at least) trip to Africa with her family.

Just like Nancy Pelosi felt entitled to luxury military travel for her many trips back and forth to her San Francisco district (and other places).

You may recall we uncovered documents indicating that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol. And most recently, we uncovered documents showing the widespread use of luxury military aircraft by Members of Congress on Speaker-authorized congressional delegation trips (CODELS).

This nonsense has to stop!

Judicial Watch Sues Obama HUD for Documents Regarding Violation of ACORN Funding Ban

Time after time, we have found that this administration cares not one whit about following basic laws. What does it mean for Congress to pass and the president to sign a law banning a corrupt organization and its affiliates from receiving federal funds? Apparently the Obama administration could care less. As you will recall, the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a grant of $79,819 to ACORN spin-off Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA), despite the fact that Barack Obama signed the ACORN funding ban in October 2009. (And despite the fact that the organization was nailed for misappropriating taxpayer funds!)

We want to know how the HUD can justify this decision. So we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on August 19, 2011, against HUD to obtain records related to the department’s approval of AHCOA as an official “housing agency.”

Pursuant to our FOIA request filed on June 8, 2011, we want access to the following information:
Any and all records concerning or relating to the approval of Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA) as a housing agency under Section 106(a)(2) of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. This request includes, but is not limited to, a copy of all HUD-9900 forms and supporting documentation submitted by, or on behalf of, AHCOA, as well as all records of communication regarding AHCOA’s approval.
Any and all records of all applications(s) for grants submitted by AHCOA to HUD.

Judicial Watch’s FOIA request was received by HUD on June 13, 2011, (according to postal records). The agency was required to respond by July 12, 2011. This is about as narrow and simple a document request that Judicial Watch makes. But as of August 19, 2011, the date of Judicial Watch’s complaint, HUD hasn’t turned over a single document, or even indicated when a response can be expected.

AHCOA was previously known as ACORN Housing Corporation, Inc., an ACORN offshoot. ACORN filed for bankruptcy on November 2, 2010. However, as we’ve pointed out many times in this space, the organization lives on in the form of numerous state organizations and various ACORN-allied entities, such as AHCOA.

Importantly, none of these ACORN entities or spin-offs are supposed to receive federal funds! President Obama signed into law legislation known as the Defund ACORN Act on October 1, 2009, and other congressional actions that cut off most federal funds to ACORN “or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations.” Following an ACORN lawsuit challenging the funding ban, the federal courts in New York upheld the constitutionality of the restrictions on August 13, 2010. In June 2011, the Supreme Court refused to hear ACORN’s appeal of this funding ban.

And yet, a Judicial Watch investigation revealed that on March 1, 2011, despite the ban, HUD announced a $79,819 federal grant to AHCOA to “educate the public and housing providers about their rights and obligations under federal state, and local fair housing laws.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) did issue a controversial advisory opinion in September 2010 stating that AHCOA is not an “allied” organization of ACORN and is therefore not subject to the funding ban. But this is ludicrous. The government’s own website listing federal expenditures identifies the organization receiving the $79,819 grant as “ACORN Housing Corporation Inc.,” and lists ACORN’s New Orleans, Louisiana, address. And AHCOA maintains the same board of directors, executive director, and offices as its predecessor, ACORN Housing Corporation, Inc.

The organization, whether known as ACORN Housing Corporation or Affordable Housing Corporation of America is corrupt and has no business receiving taxpayer funds. As recently as one year ago, ACORN/AHCOA was criticized by HUD’s Inspector General in two separate investigations for misappropriating funds from federal grants.

A November 8, 2010, report by the Inspector General, for instance, documented fraudulent activity by ACORN/AHCOA, finding that the ACORN front group “inappropriately expended more than $3.2 million from its fiscal years 2004 and 2005 grants for the elimination of lead poisoning in its housing program.” The misappropriation included the use of funds “not identified in its grant application’s detailed budgets,” including “campaign services” and “grant fundraising activities.”

(The GAO reported in June 2011 that ACORN and its “potentially related organizations” received over $48 million for fiscal years 2005 through 2009. Despite the 2009 ACORN funding bans, the GAO found that 11 government agencies had taken no steps to implement the bans until at least August, 2010.)

Look, there is no practical difference between ACORN Housing and this rebranded spin-off. And it should go without saying that the federal government should not grant taxpayer funds to an organization with a history of misappropriating federal funds. The ACORN groups’ close connections to Obama shouldn’t guarantee them tax money in violation of law. This grant is a violation of the ACORN funding ban law and an embarrassment for the Obama administration.

And unfortunately, here we have yet another instance of the Obama administration stubbornly refusing to respect the Freedom of Information Act and the rule of law. It seems these days that the Obama administration has opened up yet another war – a war on transparency.

(By the way, the three lawsuits mentioned here today were all filed on the same day by Judicial Watch’s legal team. Kudos to them and our investigators for keeping up the pace against this overreaching Obama administration!)

Until next week…

Tom Fitton

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life.

Texas Gun Store Sues Obama Regime Over Dictator’s Newly Dictated Gun Law

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (AP) – A San Antonio gun shop is suing over a federal requirement that weapons dealers in four border states must report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles.

The new requirement, ordered last month by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, follows a 2009 law enforcement operation in Arizona known as “Fast and Furious” that’s been criticized for letting high-powered weapons flow into Mexico.

The San Antonio Express-News reports ( ) the store, 10-Ring Precision Inc., claims the new requirement goes beyond ATF’s authority.

An ATF spokesman says the bureau has the authority and will defend its ability to collect the sales information from gun dealers in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California.

Other gun store owners in Arizona and New Mexico have also sued ATF over the new requirement.

9,173 Ounces Of Gold Transferred From HSBC To JP Morgan Gold Vaults Overnight

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/26/2011 23:16 -0400

While we have no information as to who or why (we do know when and where) engaged in a transfer of 9,173 ounces of eligible gold (for a total of about $16.5 million) from HSBC's gold depository into that of JP Morgan, according to today's closing CME Group Metal Depository Statistics, we can merely point out that it happened. One back of the envelope hypothesis: we have counterparty risk at the bank level (which is currently manifesting itself at both the CDS, the stock price, and the Li(E)bor level; are we going to start seeing counterparty concerns at the gold depository level next? What next: a run on the [ ] gold depository in a self-fulfilling prophecy? The second hypothesis is by now well known- JPM needs all the gold it can get. But a paltry 9,173 ounces? Of course, the last hypothesis is that the two precisely 9,173 ounce transactions are in no way related.

Exxon-Mobile Lawsuit Filing

Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 1 of 27 PageID #: 1
NOW INTO COURT, through undersigned counsel, comes plaintiff Exxon Mobil
Corporation (“ExxonMobil”) to allege as follows and to seek the relief set forth below.
ExxonMobil seeks judicial review of a final decision by the United States Department of
the Interior (“DOI” or “Interior”) canceling three valuable offshore federal oil and gas leases and
depriving ExxonMobil of the right to produce a reservoir believed to hold billions of barrels of
oil. In refusing to grant ExxonMobil a suspension of production necessary to maintain these
leases, Interior retroactively applied new legal standards, departed from established agency
practices, and singled out ExxonMobil for unprecedented adverse treatment. Interior’s decision
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 2 of 27 PageID #: 2
contradicts the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and Interior’s own regulations, violates the
rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, and violates numerous legal
restraints on agency conduct.
Jurisdiction and Venue
This action arises under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”), 43 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, et seq.; the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 551, et seq.; and the
United States Constitution.
The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 (federal question); 43 U.S.C. § 1349(b) (OCSLA); and 5 U.S.C. § 704 (judicial review of
final agency action). Declaratory relief is authorized by 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. Venue is
proper in this district. 43 U.S.C. § 1349(b)(1); 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e).
The Parties
ExxonMobil is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey.
ExxonMobil is a lessee under numerous federal oil and gas leases issued pursuant to the
OCSLA by the former Minerals Management Service (“MMS”), a subagency of the United
States Department of the Interior (“DOI” or “Interior”).
The defendants herein are: (a) Kenneth Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; (b) Robert S.
More, Director, Office of Hearings and Appeals (“OHA”), DOI; and (c) Michael R. Bromwich,
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 3 of 27 PageID #: 3
Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (“BOEMRE”),
DOI. All defendants are being sued in their official capacity.
Pursuant to the OCSLA, the DOI is responsible for administering the offshore federal
leasing program. During most of the period relevant to this lawsuit, the former MMS was the
sub-agency within DOI responsible for administering offshore federal leases, which
responsibility included the issuance of lease suspensions and extensions. As of the filing of this
lawsuit, the BOEMRE has assumed the former MMS’s responsibility for administering offshore
federal leases, including the issuance of lease suspensions and extensions. The OHA is an
authorized representative of the Secretary of DOI.
By cover letter dated August 3, 2011, pursuant to Section 23 of the OCSLA, 43 U.S.C.
§ 1349, ExxonMobil provided a “Notice of Violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act”
to the Defendants, as well as to the Honorable Bobby Jindal, Governor of the State of Louisiana.
A copy of this Notice is attached hereto and made a part hereof as Exhibit 1.
Statutory And Regulatory Authority For Offshore Lease Suspensions
In recognition of the inherent operational challenges to offshore exploration,
development, and production, Congress mandated that DOI promulgate regulations to extend the
term of leases granted pursuant to the OCSLA under certain circumstances.
Congress mandated that DOI promulgate regulations “for the suspension or temporary
prohibition of any operation or activity, including production, pursuant to any lease or permit (A)
at the request of a lessee, in the national interest, to facilitate proper development of a lease or to
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 4 of 27 PageID #: 4
allow for the construction or negotiation for use of transportation facilities ... and for the
extension of any permit or lease affected by [such] suspension....” 43 U.S.C. § 1334(a)(1).
DOI, acting through the MMS, has adopted such “suspension” regulations. The current version
of those regulations are found at 30 C.F.R. §§ 250.168-177.
In Notice to Lessees (“NTL”) No. 2000-G17, the MMS provided guidance on its
administration of requests for a suspension of production (“SOP”) or a suspension of operations
(“SOO”). The NTL stated that MMS “should receive an SOP request approximately 3 weeks
before the lease expiration date.” The NTL also provides a sample “Activity Schedule” to be
submitted in support of an SOP request, which includes the following initial step in the activities
leading to production: “Commence bids and design of platform and facilities.” A copy of NTL
No. 2000-G17 is attached as Exhibit 2.
MMS has routinely published NTLs or promulgated regulations to establish specific
criteria for suspensions under particular factual and technical circumstances. See, e.g., 30 C.F.R.
§ 250.175(b) (suspensions for subsalt hydrocarbon formations), § 250.175(c) (suspensions for
hydrocarbon formations lying below 25,000 feet true vertical depth), NTL No. 2004-G16 (ultra-
deep wells beneath salt sheets). However, MMS has never promulgated specific criteria for
SOPs for deepwater leases with subsea wells that are tied-back to host production facilities.
In accordance with DOI regulations adopted pursuant to the OCSLA, the United States
Geological Survey, the MMS, and the BOEMRE have granted thousands of SOPs for offshore
leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of such SOPs were granted by the Regional Supervisor
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 5 of 27 PageID #: 5
of Production and Development of MMS’s (now the BOEMRE’s) Gulf of Mexico Region (the
“Regional Supervisor”). The Regional Supervisor had the authority to grant these SOPs based
on a formal delegation of authority within the DOI. See Exhibit 3 (sample delegations of
authority to the Regional Supervisor). In each case in which the Regional Supervisor granted an
SOP, the Regional Supervisor determined that the SOP was in the national interest, and each
SOP had a binding legal effect on both the United States and the federal lessee(s) who owned the
affected lease(s).
Deep Water Exploration And Production
Aware of the high costs and risks of deep water development and of MMS’s limited
success in leasing in waters deeper than 200 meters, in 1995 Congress enacted the Outer
Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act, Pub. L. No. 104-58 §§ 301-306 (codified at
43 U.S.C. § 1337 (a)(1)(H), (a)(3)(B), (a)(3)(C) & Hist. Notes) (“RRA”). As an incentive to
companies to accept the risks of deep water exploration and development, Section 304 of the
RRA guaranteed companies who acquired deep water leases between 1996 and 2000 that, if they
found commercial quantities of oil or gas, they would have the unconditional right to produce a
specified volume of oil or gas free of royalty. After that “royalty suspension” volume had been
produced, further production would be subject to the full rate of royalty. Congress found these
royalty suspension incentives to be in the national interest, because they would increase
investment in the Gulf of Mexico, increase the domestic energy supply, and create jobs. Further,
the royalty suspension incentives were expected to (and did) dramatically increase the
government’s receipt of upfront cash “bonus” payments that oil companies make to acquire new
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 6 of 27 PageID #: 6
In May 2009, MMS published OCS Report MMS 2009-016, entitled “Deepwater Gulf of
Mexico 2009: Interim Report of 2008 Highlights” (the “2009 OCS Report”). In the 2009 OCS
Report, the MMS described oil and gas operations in water depths exceeding 5,000 feet as being
in “ultra-deep water,” and MMS noted that there had been 15 ultra-deepwater discoveries
associated with the Lower Tertiary trend. 2009 OCS Report p.10. MMS further noted that
“[d]eepwater operations are very expensive and often require significant amounts of time
between initial exploration and first production.” Id. p.13. A copy of the 2009 OCS Report is
attached as Exhibit 4.
The 2009 OCS Report said the following concerning “hubs” or “host facilities” to which
deepwater subsea wells are “tied-back:”
For purposes of this report, deepwater hubs are defined as surface
structures that host production from one or more subsea projects.
These hubs represent the first location where subsea production
comes to the surface, and the hubs are the connection point to the
existing pipeline infrastructure. Note that potential hubs are
moving into deeper waters, expanding the infrastructure and
facilitating additional development in the ultra-deepwater frontier.
2009 OCS Report p.13. Thus, DOI has recognized that deepwater host facilities both “facilitate
development” and function as “transportation facilities.”
Consistent with Congress’ mandate to allow suspensions “in the national interest, to
facilitate proper development of a lease or to allow for the construction or negotiation for use of
transportation facilities,” Interior has routinely granted SOPs to allow lessees time to undertake
activities (e.g., negotiation, fabrication, installation) associated with tying back subsea wells to
deepwater host facilities. Prior to the Interior decision being challenged in this lawsuit, Interior
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 7 of 27 PageID #: 7
had never articulated that a lessee’s ownership or “control” of a deepwater host facility would be
a determining factor in deciding whether to grant an SOP.
Julia Discovery Leases And Operations
ExxonMobil is the Operator of the Walker Ridge Block 627 Unit (a/k/a the “Julia Unit”),
which is comprised of the following five offshore federal leases granted pursuant to the OCSLA
and located in an ultra-deepwater area of the Gulf of Mexico: OCS-G 20351 (Walker Ridge
Block 584), OCS-G 20361 (Walker Ridge Block 627), OCS-G 20362 (Walker Ridge Block 628),
OCS-G 25251 (Walker Ridge Block 540), and OCS-G 25258 (Walker Ridge Block 583).
ExxonMobil owns a fifty percent record title interest in each of the leases within the Julia Unit;
Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC (“Statoil”) owns the remaining fifty percent record title interest.
The MMS granted leases OCS-G 20351, OCS-G 20361, and OCS-G 20362 (the
“Original Julia Leases”) to ExxonMobil’s corporate predecessor, Mobil Oil Exploration and
Producing Southeast Inc., effective June 1, 1998. The Original Julia Leases were granted
pursuant to Section 304 of the RRA, and therefore those leases include the unconditional right to
produce a specified volume of oil or gas free of royalty. Leases OCS-G 25251 and OCS-G
25258 were granted in 2003, and therefore are not governed by Section 304 of the RRA.
The Julia No. 1 Well was drilled on Walker Ridge Block 627 during the period December
2006 to April 2007 in an approximate water depth of 7100 feet and at a cost exceeding $120
million. The Julia No. 1 Well was drilled to a subsurface depth of 31,800 feet measured depth,
and it encountered more than 300 feet of net pay in the Upper Wilcox and Middle Wilcox
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 8 of 27 PageID #: 8
formations. The primary pay sands are Paleogene-age formations located between 29,094 feet
and 30,302 feet measured depth. Pursuant to 30 C.F.R. § 250.116, MMS deemed the Julia No. 1
Well capable of production in paying quantities by letter dated August 23, 2007.
By letter dated November 7, 2007, ExxonMobil applied to MMS for approval of an
Exploratory, Development and Production Unit comprised of the three Original Julia Leases.
However, following a series of delays in processing ExxonMobil’s application, in March 2008
MMS insisted that any such unit also include Lease OCS-G 25251 (Walker Ridge Block 540),
which was then owned by BP Exploration & Production Inc., and Lease OCS-G 25258 (Walker
Ridge Block 583), which was then owned by BP Exploration & Production Inc. and Devon
Energy Corporation.
With no certainty about approval of a unit, ExxonMobil began to drill the Julia No. 2
Well on Walker Ridge Block 584 on February 17, 2008, conducting drilling operations through
June 16, 2008. The well was drilled to a total depth of 30,955 measured depth at a cost
exceeding $110 million. The Julia No. 2 Well encountered 969 feet of net oil pay in the Upper
Wilcox and Middle Wilcox formations. As with the Julia No. 1 Well, the primary pay sands are
Paleogene-age formations located between 28,015 feet and 30,441 feet measured depth.
Pursuant to 30 C.F.R. § 250.116, MMS deemed the Julia No. 2 Well capable of production in
paying quantities by letter dated October 16, 2008.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 9 of 27 PageID #: 9
In light of the MMS’s significant delay in approving the Julia Unit, ExxonMobil asked
the MMS to issue an SOP for OCS-G 20361 (Walker Ridge Block 627) by letter dated May 7,
2008, which was the drill site of the Julia No. 1 Well.
After a series of complex transactions, ExxonMobil and Statoil acquired the two
additional leases that MMS stated would be necessary to form a unit at a cost of more than $60
million, only days before the end of the primary term of the Original Julia Leases. By letter to
MMS dated May 16, 2008, ExxonMobil reapplied for a unit, this time including all five blocks in
its proposal. By letter dated May 29, 2008, MMS approved the formation of the five-block Julia
Unit, finding that “formation of this unit will promote and expedite exploration and
After receiving approval of the Julia Unit, by letter dated June 2, 2008
ExxonMobil withdrew its pending request for an SOP for OCS-G 20361. However, it was clear
at this time that ExxonMobil would likely request an SOP for the entire unit, just as other
operators with similar deepwater discoveries had done.
The discovery identified by the Julia No. 1 and Julia No. 2 Wells is the Julia Discovery, a
Paleogene-age reservoir that is estimated to hold billions of barrels of oil in place. The Julia
Discovery is located in ultra-deepwater in a remote frontier area of the Gulf of Mexico, without
immediately available transportation facilities. The Julia Discovery is one of a series of Lower
Tertiary discoveries that have been made in deepwater Gulf of Mexico in the last ten years. To
date, industry has very little experience with developing Lower Tertiary discoveries in the Gulf
of Mexico.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 10 of 27 PageID #: 10
For a number of reasons, the development of Lower Tertiary discoveries is inherently
expensive and risky.
See 2009 OCS Report p.58.
Accordingly, it is essential that any
development plan for the Julia Discovery carefully sequence the timing of testing and evaluation
of the reservoir, as well as the timing of developmental drilling, in order to maximize the
ultimate production of hydrocarbons. If ExxonMobil were required to commence drilling a new
well every 180 days after completing operations on a well (as MMS’s regulations would require
in the absence of an SOP), ExxonMobil would have to drill unnecessary and highly expensive
wells. In recognition of the technological challenges to developing Lower Tertiary discoveries
such as the Julia Discovery, the MMS has repeatedly granted suspensions to offshore federal
lessees to allow for a reasonable and properly sequenced development plan.
The development scenarios for the Julia Discovery are either (a) a tie-back to the Jack-St.
Malo Host (“JSM Host”) being planned to be installed in Walker Ridge Block 718, located
approximately eight miles from the Julia Discovery; or (b) a stand-alone development, which
would involve the construction of a host facility within the Julia Unit. Each development
scenario requires the expenditure of more than $1 billion.
Based on the technical challenges involved in producing the Julia Discovery,
ExxonMobil determined that the most effective development strategy would be to commence
with the drilling of three to six development wells that would tie-back to the JSM Host. A larger
second stage of operations would follow using the data and information developed from the first
set of development wells. The first stage of this development approach, projected to cost well in
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 11 of 27 PageID #: 11
excess of $1 billion, would both (i) lead to the earliest production of oil and (ii) optimize the
design of future production phases. As ExxonMobil expressly communicated to the MMS, this
is the same type of development strategy that MMS approved for other Lower Tertiary
discoveries, including the development of the Cascade and Chinook fields and the Jack and St.
Malo fields. ExxonMobil’s proposed tie-back scenario would achieve first production of oil
approximately two to three years earlier than the alternative “stand-alone” development scenario.
The Jack-St. Malo Host Facility
The JSM Host is to be located on Walker Ridge Block 718, in proximity with the Jack
Unit (Walker Ridge Block 759 Unit) and the St. Malo Unit (Walker Ridge Block 678 Unit).
MMS has granted unit SOPs to both the Jack Unit and the St. Malo Unit in order to allow for the
construction of the JSM Host.
The proposed JSM Host is to be operated by Chevron. However, because ExxonMobil
and Statoil own partial interests in the St. Malo Unit, and because Statoil is a partial owner in the
Jack Unit, both ExxonMobil and Statoil participate in owners’ meetings concerning the JSM
Host. Under the commercial agreement framework negotiated and ultimately executed by the
Jack Unit, St. Malo Unit, and Julia Unit owners, the Julia Unit owners (i.e., ExxonMobil and
Statoil) contributed to Front End Engineering and Design costs and paid millions of dollars for
the construction of the JSM Host. These investments give the Julia Unit owners the right to own
twenty percent of the JSM Host, which is larger than the ownership shares of some of the other
owners of the JSM Host.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 12 of 27 PageID #: 12
The JSM Host is the type of facility that the 2009 OCS Report recognizes is essential
both for transportation and to facilitate development of subsea tie-backs in remote deepwater
areas of the Gulf of Mexico. MMS has granted multiple SOPs for the Jack Unit and the St. Malo
Unit to allow for time necessary (inter alia) to design, fabricate, and install the JSM Host.
Proceedings Before the DOI
Consistent with the suggestion of MMS personnel that ExxonMobil apply for an SOP for
the Julia Unit, ExxonMobil requested that MMS grant an SOP for the Julia Unit by letter dated
October 21, 2008. In support of its SOP application, ExxonMobil proposed an Activity Schedule
that called for a sequence of development operations with a tie-back to the JSM Host.
ExxonMobil was aware that MMS had approved suspensions for other deepwater discoveries
based on similar proposals for development involving a tie-back to a host facility (including
suspensions granted for the Jack Unit in 2006 and the St. Malo Unit in 2007). Pursuant to
meetings and communications with MMS representatives, ExxonMobil supplemented its original
SOP request with numerous emails and letters which consistently demonstrated ExxonMobil’s
commitment to produce the Julia Discovery. ExxonMobil repeatedly made it clear that, if a tie-
back to the JSM Host was deemed insufficient or otherwise was not possible, ExxonMobil was
committed to development of the Julia Discovery based on a more expensive “stand-alone”
In a letter dated February 10, 2009, the Regional Supervisor denied ExxonMobil’s
request for an SOP, concluding that ExxonMobil had not demonstrated a “commitment to
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 13 of 27 PageID #: 13
production” as required by 30 C.F.R. § 250.171. In denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP,
the Regional Supervisor relied on a series of four “contingencies” that he determined prevented
ExxonMobil from demonstrating a “commitment to production” as required by MMS
Minerals Management Service (MMS) concludes that your
purported commitment is not based on activities within your
control. This asserted commitment is contingent upon 1) the
potential fabrication and installation of a facility by another
operator for another field, 2) a proposed facility of which you are
not a party and have no control, 3) the future success of obtaining a
contract with the operator of the proposed facility in order to tie-
back WR 627 Unit wells, and 4) a proposed facility that would not
likely be designed to handle WR 627 production upon startup.
In citing these four “contingencies,” MMS employed standards and criteria that are not set forth
in the OCSLA, MMS regulations, any published MMS guidance, or any publicly available MMS
decision responding to an SOP request. A copy of this letter is attached hereto and made a part
hereof as Exhibit 5.
In accordance with MMS’s appeal regulations, ExxonMobil used the sixty-day
administrative appeal period to attempt to resolve the dispute informally. See 30 C.F.R. § 290.6.
During that period, ExxonMobil provided additional information supporting its commitment to
production, including information concerning the progress of its negotiations to tie-back Julia
Discovery wells to the JSM Host, as well as information relevant to ExxonMobil’s alternate
commitment to a “stand-alone” development. In addition, in correspondence, both ExxonMobil
and Chevron (the intended operator of the JSM Host) verified to the MMS that, directly contrary
to MMS’s February 10, 2009 letter, the JSM Host in fact was being designed to accommodate
Julia Unit production.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 14 of 27 PageID #: 14
In a letter dated April 9, 2009, the Regional Director of the MMS Gulf of Mexico Region
affirmed the Regional Supervisor’s original denial of ExxonMobil’s SOP request. MMS did not
change any of its original findings. A copy of this letter is attached hereto and made a part
hereof as Exhibit 6. The February 10, 2009 and April 9, 2009 letters are collectively referred to
as the “MMS Decision.”
By the time of the MMS Decision, ExxonMobil and its co-venturers had spent more than
three hundred million dollars on the Julia Discovery and had drilled two producible wells. As
explained below, the MMS Decision is believed to be the first instance in which Interior denied
an SOP for a deep water unit.
Moreover, not once during the many meetings and
communications between ExxonMobil and the MMS concerning ExxonMobil’s SOP application
did the MMS clearly specify what ExxonMobil needed to do to receive approval of the requested
SOP. If upheld, the effect of the MMS Decision denying ExxonMobil’s SOP request would be
the cancelation of the three Original Julia Leases.
Pursuant to 30 C.F.R. Part 290 Subpart A and 43 C.F.R. § 4.21, ExxonMobil timely
appealed the MMS Decision to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (“IBLA”). In support of its
appeal, ExxonMobil demonstrated that the MMS Decision contradicted the OCSLA and MMS’s
regulations and violated numerous principles of administrative law. ExxonMobil proved that
MMS had granted SOPs for dozens of other deepwater subsea tie-back developments
notwithstanding the existence of the four “contingencies” that MMS relied upon in denying
ExxonMobil’s SOP application. ExxonMobil further demonstrated that its “commitment to
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 15 of 27 PageID #: 15
production” was plainly stronger than the “commitment” of other operators to whom MMS had
granted numerous SOPs. ExxonMobil also demonstrated that the MMS decision was based on
unsupported conclusions about the ownership and “control” of the JSM Host. Thus, MMS’s
denial of ExxonMobil’s SOP request violated the governing statute and regulations, retroactively
changed the applicable legal standards and criteria, departed from established agency practice,
was inconsistent with MMS’s treatment of SOP requests for deepwater subsea tie-back
developments, and was premised on conclusions concerning the JSM Host that had no record
Notwithstanding the MMS Decision, ExxonMobil continued its negotiations concerning
the JSM Host during the pendency of the IBLA appeal.
For informational purposes,
ExxonMobil apprised the Board of developments in those negotiations, including by informing
the Board that agreement had been reached to use the JSM Host for Julia Unit production.
On December 22, 2009, the IBLA granted ExxonMobil’s appeal, reversing MMS’s denial
of the SOP request and finding that the MMS Decision was legally deficient on virtually all
counts (the “IBLA Decision”). The IBLA found that MMS had misinterpreted the OCSLA and
MMS’s own regulations; that MMS’s nonexistent standard for “commitment to production”
deprived its decision of a rational basis; that MMS’s insistence that ExxonMobil’s application
presented a “unique combination” of factors did not withstand scrutiny; and that MMS had
unlawfully treated ExxonMobil’s SOP application differently than it had consistently treated
other similar applications. A copy of the IBLA Decision is attached hereto and made a part
hereof as Exhibit 7.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 16 of 27 PageID #: 16
On February 22, 2010, MMS filed a motion requesting that the Director of the DOI
Office of Hearings and Appeals (“OHA”) assume jurisdiction, review portions of the IBLA
Decision, and direct reconsideration of portions of the IBLA Decision.
On May 31, 2011, the Director of the OHA issued a decision (the “Interior Decision”)
assuming jurisdiction, reversing the IBLA Decision, and affirming the MMS Decision.
Therefore, the Interior Decision upheld MMS’s denial of ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP for
the Julia Unit. Both the MMS Decision and the Interior Decision retroactively apply legal
interpretations, standards, and criteria for administering an SOP application that the agency had
never before applied and had never before articulated to the regulated community. A copy of the
Interior Decision is attached hereto and made a part hereof as Exhibit 8.
The Interior Decision held that (inter alia): (a) ExxonMobil did not demonstrate a
“commitment to production” as required by MMS regulations; (b) in the MMS Decision
(rendered in 2009 months after ExxonMobil submitted its SOP application in 2008), MMS
provided ExxonMobil adequate notice of the agency’s standards for granting an SOP; (c) the
JSM Host will not serve a “transportation” function and instead is a “production facility,” and
neither OCSLA nor the MMS regulations provide for an SOP for construction or negotiation for
use of a “production facility;” (d) an SOP cannot be granted to allow the lessee time to tie-back
to a deepwater host facility unless the lessee either planned to build its own host facility or has
executed a contract with the owner of the host facility before lease expiration; (e) the thousands
of SOPs granted by the MMS before denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP were not issued
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 17 of 27 PageID #: 17
by an official with authority to bind the agency and therefore are not precedential, binding, or
otherwise relevant; (f) the IBLA failed to consider whether an SOP for the Julia Discovery is in
“the national interest.”
The Interior Decision is the first time that Interior has determined that a “production
facility” will “facilitate development” when the lessee owns the “production facility,” but will
not “facilitate development” when the lessee does not own the “production facility.” 42 OHA at
300-302. The Interior Decision is the first time that Interior has determined that “[l]essees are
expected to conclude arrangements for the construction of production facilities before the end of
the lease term, even if they are still negotiating for the use of transportation facilities.” 42 OHA
at 302. While the Interior Decision found that the JSM Host will be used “to develop the Jack
and St. Malo Fields,” 42 OHA at 279 n.20, the Interior Decision also found that the same JSM
Host does not satisfy the OCSLA’s “facilitate development” standard for purposes of the Julia
The Interior Decision is final agency action subject to judicial review. If upheld, the
effect of the Interior Decision would be the cancelation of the three Original Julia Leases. Thus,
Interior would achieve cancelation of the Original Julia Leases by retroactively applying new
legal standards that differed from the standards that Interior had previously applied to SOP
applications, and without ExxonMobil having had prior notice of the new legal standards.
As ExxonMobil demonstrated in the administrative proceedings below, Interior’s
economic incentive to cancel the Original Julia Leases is clear. Cancelation of the Original Julia
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 18 of 27 PageID #: 18
Leases would enable Interior to grant new leases on Walker Ridge Blocks 584, 627, and 628.
Because producible wells have been drilled on Walker Ridge Blocks 584 and 627, the lease
bonuses to be paid to Interior for new leases of those blocks would be very high. Moreover, new
leases of Walker Ridge Blocks 584, 627, and 628 would not be subject to the mandatory royalty
relief that applies to the Original Julia Leases under Section 304 of the RRA. Accordingly, by
enabling Interior to grant new leases on blocks with proven reserves, cancelation of the Original
Julia Leases would give Interior the opportunity to collect millions of dollars in bonuses and
royalties that it otherwise would not be entitled to collect if the Original Julia Leases are not
Established DOI Practices Concerning SOPs In The Gulf Of Mexico
During the period from 1994 through 2008, MMS granted more than 2,200 requests for
SOPs for individual leases in the Gulf of Mexico and denied only 33 such requests. During this
same period, MMS granted 101 unit SOPs, while denying only two unit SOP requests. In every
case in which the MMS granted an SOP, MMS determined that the SOP was in the national
MMS’s years of practice in interpreting and applying the OCSLA and related
suspension regulations is the clearest indication of the meaning of the agency’s requirements for
granting an SOP.
The denial of ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP for the Julia Unit is one of the only two
instances in which MMS denied a request for a unit SOP. MMS’s only other denial (dated
February 24, 1999) involved a shallow water unit (West Delta Block 30) for which the operator
had conceded that it had no intention to return the unit to production. Thus, during the fifteen
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 19 of 27 PageID #: 19
years (and likely longer) before MMS denied ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP for the Julia
Unit, MMS had not denied a single request for an SOP for a deepwater unit, nor had MMS
denied a unit SOP without the unit operator first conceding that it would not produce from the
unit. Thus, the denial of ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP for the Julia Unit is unprecedented.
Before denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP, MMS had granted SOPs for more than
fifty deepwater subsea tie-back developments (i.e., developments in which subsea wells on the
lease or unit for which the SOP was granted were to be tied-back to a host facility). This
included SOPs in situations involving the following circumstances:
(a) the lessee applying for the SOP had not yet decided on a development concept;
(b) the lessee had not yet selected a host facility;
(c) fabrication of the host facility had not yet commenced;
(d) the host facility had not yet been installed;
(e) the lessee applying for the SOP changed the development concept that had been the
basis on which an earlier SOP had been granted;
(f) the lessee applying for the SOP changed the host facility that had been the basis on
which an earlier SOP had been granted;
(g) ownership of the host facility differed from ownership of the lease/unit for which the
SOP was requested;
(h) the lessee applying for the SOP had not yet negotiated a production handling
agreement with the owner of the host facility;
(i) the lessee applying for the SOP did not “control” the host facility;
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 20 of 27 PageID #: 20
(j) commencement of production would not occur for more than five years after an SOP
was granted.
Based on the public record, the Interior Decision is the only time that Interior has denied
an SOP for a Lower Tertiary discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. During the period 2006-2008,
MMS granted SOPs for the following Lower Tertiary discoveries, all of which (like the Julia
Discovery) are located in deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico: Cascade (Walker Ridge Block
206 Unit), Chinook (Walker Ridge Block 425 Unit), Jack (Walker Ridge Block 759 Unit), St.
Malo (Walker Ridge Block 678 Unit), Great White (Alaminos Canyon Block 857 Unit), and
Tobago (Alaminos Canyon Block 859 Unit). These SOPs are consistent with MMS’s public
recognition that “the Lower Tertiary trend is in very deep water, has target depths below 25,000
ft (7,620 m), has the potential for high-pressure/high-temperature conditions, and many of the
discoveries underlie a thick salt layer, all of which complicate drilling and development
operations.” 2009 OCS Report p.58.
MMS has often granted a series of sequential SOPs for a single lease or unit, resulting in
delays in the commencement of production for periods much longer than five years after the
initial SOP was granted. For example, MMS granted eight SOPs for the Telemark development
(OCS-G 13198 and OCS-G 13199), approving six changes in the proposed development system
and authorizing the commencement of production more than nineteen years after the leases were
granted. Similarly, MMS granted nine SOPs for the King Kong development (OCS-G 5097,
OCS-G 5922, OCS-G 5923), involving at least four changes to the proposed development system
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 21 of 27 PageID #: 21
and the commencement of production nearly ten years after the first SOP was granted and nearly
twenty years after lease OCS-G 5097 was granted.
It is not possible to determine from MMS/BOEMRE’s records whether a given operator
does or does not “control” the ownership of a given lease, unit, or host facility, in situations
where there are co-owners. It is also not possible to determine from MMS/BOEMRE’s records
the precise ownership of the host facility by the host facility operator.
This is because
MMS/BOEMRE records typically do not contain information reflecting the private contractual
arrangements among co-owners of a lease, unit, or host facility. A party’s status as “designated
operator” of a lease or host facility does not conclusively establish that party’s “control” over the
host facility.
The record reflects that, after the MMS Decision was rendered, the former MMS
Regional Supervisor spent approximately three hundred hours reviewing thousands of pages of
MMS records dating back to 1979 pertaining to SOPs for deepwater leases. Based on this
research and his more than thirty-five years experience working for the MMS (including being
Regional Supervisor during the period 1996-2007), the former MMS Regional Supervisor
testified as follows:
After having reviewed the lease files for hundreds of deep water
leases, I could find no situation in which the MMS had denied a
request for an SOP under circumstances similar to those that
ExxonMobil presented in support of its request for an SOP for the
Walker Ridge Block 627 Unit. To the contrary, I found that the
MMS had consistently granted SOPs under circumstances similar
to those presented by ExxonMobil’s application for an SOP, or
under circumstances in which the lessee requesting the SOP had
not demonstrated as firm a “commitment to production” as
ExxonMobil has demonstrated in this matter. Based on my
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 22 of 27 PageID #: 22
experience and research, I can see no defensible basis for the MMS
to deny ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP fore [sic] the Walker
Ridge Block 627 Unit.
Affidavit of J. Michael Melancon.
ExxonMobil seeks reversal of the Interior Decision on the following grounds.
Count I
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
ExxonMobil based its request for an SOP on the very reasons that Congress directed DOI
to grant SOPs – i.e., “in the national interest, to facilitate development of a lease or to allow for
the construction or negotiation for use of transportation facilities.” 43 U.S.C. § 1334(a)(1)(A).
In support of its request, ExxonMobil introduced uncontradicted evidence that an SOP would
both “facilitate development” of the Julia Unit and would “allow for the construction or
negotiation for use of transportation facilities.” The Interior Decision erroneously interpreted the
applicable OCSLA provisions (including the terms “development,” “transportation,” and
“national interest”) and ignored uncontradicted record evidence that supported ExxonMobil’s
satisfaction of these statutory standards. Accordingly, the Interior Decision is in excess of
statutory authority or limitation, and is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise
contrary to law.
Count II
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 23 of 27 PageID #: 23
The Interior Decision substantially altered the agency’s well-established regulatory
interpretation and retroactively applied new standards and criteria for obtaining an SOP.
Accordingly, the Interior Decision applied a new substantive rule that Interior adopted in
violation of the notice and comment rulemaking requirements of the APA.
Count III
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
Alternatively, due to the substantial adverse effects upon ExxonMobil resulting from the
Interior Decision’s retroactive application of newly announced standards for obtaining an SOP,
Interior’s use of an adjudication to formulate and retroactively impose its new standards is
arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Count IV
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
Interior was required to articulate with ascertainable certainty the legal standards for
obtaining an SOP before ExxonMobil submitted its SOP application. However, in both the
MMS Decision and the Interior Decision, Interior denied ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP, and
would thereby cancel the Original Julia Leases, without first giving ExxonMobil fair notice of
the standards and criteria that it employed in making its decision. Accordingly, the Interior
Decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 24 of 27 PageID #: 24
Count V
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
By denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP and attempting to cancel the Original Julia
Leases, Interior treated ExxonMobil’s request differently than it had consistently treated other
similar requests for SOPs. Accordingly, the Interior Decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of
discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Count VI
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
By denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP and attempting to cancel the Original Julia
Leases, the Interior Decision departs from well-established agency rules and practices. Interior’s
retroactive change in its established rules and practices is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of
discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Count VII
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
By denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP and attempting to cancel the Original Julia
Leases, the Interior Decision failed to consider all relevant factors, ignored uncontradicted
evidence in the administrative record, lacked a rational connection with the facts presented, and
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 25 of 27 PageID #: 25
lacked a rational basis. Further, the Interior Decision is internally inconsistent in numerous
respects. Accordingly, the Interior Decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or
otherwise contrary to law.
Count VIII
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
The Interior Decision contradicts Interior’s own regulations. Accordingly, the Interior
Decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Count IX
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
If the Interior Decision is upheld under Interior’s regulations, then those regulations are
themselves in excess of statutory authority or limitation and are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of
discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Count X
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
The Interior Decision is otherwise arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or
otherwise contrary to law.
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 26 of 27 PageID #: 26
Count XI
The allegations of paragraphs 1- 52 are incorporated by reference.
The Interior Decision is contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity.
Without limitation, the Interior Decision deprives ExxonMobil of property without due process
of law, and it denies ExxonMobil equal protection of the laws.
Count XII
The allegations of paragraphs 1 - 52 are incorporated by reference.
The arguments asserted by ExxonMobil and Statoil in support of their appeals in IBLA-
2009-190-OCS, IBLA-2009-188-OCS, and DIR-2010-0027 are incorporated by reference, and,
for the reasons set forth therein, the Interior Decision is in excess of statutory authority or
limitation, and is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law.
Prayer For Relief
WHEREFORE, ExxonMobil prays that this Court:
Render a judgment setting aside the Interior Decision on the grounds that it is in
excess of statutory authority or limitation and/or is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse
of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law;
Enter an order enjoining the BOEMRE and/or the DOI from enforcing the Interior
Case 2:11-cv-01474 Document 1 Filed 08/12/11 Page 27 of 27 PageID #: 27
Enter an order requiring the BOEMRE to grant a suspension of production for
leases OCS-G 20351, OCS-G 20361, OCS-G 20362, OCS-G 25251, and OCS-G
25258, effective October 21, 2008 (the date ExxonMobil requested the SOP for
the Julia Unit), and declaring that such leases and the Julia Unit are fully in force
and effect;
Award ExxonMobil its costs of litigation, including attorney and expert witness
Grant such other relief as may be appropriate under the circumstances.
Respectfully submitted,
/s/ Jonathan A. Hunter
Jonathan A. Hunter, T.A. (Bar #18619)
Shannon S. Holtzman (Bar #19933)
Lesley Pietras (Bar #33628)
One Shell Square
701 Poydras Street, Suite 5000
New Orleans, Louisiana 70139-5099
Telephone: (504) 581-7979
Attorneys for Exxon Mobil Corporation

Regulating the Profits Away

ExxonMobil Sues Obama Administration for Canceling Deepwater Well Worth ‘Billions of Barrels of Oil’

Friday, August 26, 2011
By Matt Cover

( – ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy company, filed a lawsuit against the federal government for canceling an oil-drilling lease in the Gulf of Mexico that held “billions of barrels of oil,” according to the company.

In the suit, filed Aug. 12 in federal court in Louisiana against Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar and related parties, Exxon alleges that the Interior Department made an “arbitrary, capricious” decision in canceling the deepwater leases, arguing that the government’s action “deprives ExxonMobil of property without due process of law.” ExxonMobil lawsuit filing..pdf

At issue is an ExxonMobil project in a part of the Gulf of Mexico known as the Julia Field, which the company estimates holds “billions of barrels of oil.” ExxonMobil was in the process of connecting the wells drilled in the Julia Field to existing oil platforms in a nearby part of the Gulf when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) canceled the leases, accusing ExxonMobil in 2009 of not having a “commitment to production.”

ExxonMobil had asked for a Suspension of Production (SOP) allowance in 2008 in order to have enough time to tie the wells in the Julia Field to the nearby production facility, something it said the government normally allows.

However, ExxonMobil contends that in arguing it did not show a “commitment to production,” BOEMRE used criteria it had never applied before, and that did not exist anywhere in federal regulations.

“In denying ExxonMobil’s request for an SOP, the [BOEMRE] Regional Supervisor relied on a series of four “contingencies” that he determined prevented ExxonMobil from demonstrating a “commitment to production” as required by MMS regulations,” the company explained in its court filing. (MMS is the acronym for Minerals Management Service, the forerunner of BOEMRE in the Department of Interior.)

“In citing these four ‘contingencies,’ MMS employed standards and criteria that are not set forth in the OCSLA, MMS regulations, any published MMS guidance, or any publicly available MMS decision responding to an SOP request,” stated ExxonMobil in its filing.

The OCSLA is the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the federal law that governs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and other off-shore areas. The government denied ExxonMobil’s request because the nearby production facility the company planned to use is operated by Chevron, not ExxonMobil, prompting BOEMRE to say that ExxonMobil could not demonstrate a “commitment to production” because it did not own or control the facility ExxonMobil had said it planned to use.

However, ExxonMobil pointed out that Chevron had made plans to accommodate ExxonMobil’s new wells, and that in the event those plans did not work out, the oil company was prepared to build a separate production facility specifically for its Julia Fields leases.

The company also noted that the government had approved other deepwater SOP requests and had never made an issue of which company actually operated a production rig that another company’s well was being tied to.

Further, ExxonMobil said that BOEMRE (then the Minerals Management Service) never told the company what it needed to do to show a commitment to production, despite the fact that the company had already spent nearly $300 million drilling two oil wells.

“By the time of the MMS Decision, ExxonMobil and its co-venturers had spent more than three hundred million dollars on the Julia Discovery and had drilled two producible wells,” Exxon explained in its complaint. “Moreover, not once during the many meetings and communications between ExxonMobil and the MMS concerning ExxonMobil’s SOP application did the MMS clearly specify what ExxonMobil needed to do to receive approval of the requested SOP.”

Because of this, Exxon accused the government of cancelling its Julia Field lease in an attempt to gain more revenue by selling the lease a second time.

“Accordingly, by enabling Interior to grant new leases on blocks with proven reserves, cancelation of the Original Julia Leases would give Interior the opportunity to collect millions of dollars in bonuses and royalties that it otherwise would not be entitled to collect if the Original Julia Leases are not canceled.”

The Interior Department has not responded to the lawsuit, but has 60 days from the Aug. 12 filing to do so.

ExxonMobil employs more than 82,000 people and is the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world. In 2010, the company paid $21.6 billion in income taxes, which translates into a tax rate of 45 percent.

ESPN Moves to Silence Golf Analyst Who Criticized Obama

ESPN Moves to Silence Golf Analyst Who Criticized Obama
*UPDATED: ESPN Ignores Political Tweets of Other Personalities
*UPDATE: More Cherry-Picking

Posted by Dana Loesch

A note for future prospective ESPN employees: You can only cheerlead Obama at ESPN. I’m not joking.

Case in point: The network’s golf analyst, 12-time PGA Tour winner Paul Azinger hit out at the President’s amount of golf games on Twitter:

Azinger’s remarks prompted ESPN to crack down:

ESPN is coming down on Paul Azinger for mocking President Barack Obama on Twitter. The golf analyst tweeted Thursday the Commander-in-chief plays more golf than he does — and that Azinger has created more jobs this month than Obama has.

On Friday ESPN ‘reminded” Azinger his venture into political punditry violates the company’s updated social network policy for on-air talent and reporters.

“Paul’s tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field,” spokesman Andy Hall told Game On! in a statement.

ESPN’s Hall would not comment on whether Azinger, who won the 1993 PGA Championship, will be fired, suspended or punished in some way. “We handle that internally,” he said.

Fired? Seriously? I wonder if Mayne was ever threatened with his job over his antics.

I support businesses’ rights and if ESPN wants to enact a ban on political commentary from their on-air talent (it seems a bit of a stretch for me to include personal social media accounts into that) they have the right to do such and contributors have the right not to sign with them. However, if ESPN is allowing one on-air talent to air his political views while denying another the same privilege under the same rules, then it seems tantamount to discrimination and a host of other problems, which isn’t OK.

Team Azinger, for the record.

*UPDATE: Further making my case for their cherry-picked policy enforcement, check out the Tweets of on-air talent Mayne:

What say you, ESPN?

*UPDATE #2: @FirstTeamTommy asks ESPN a very good question:

His link goes to this:

Barack Obama’s campaign received more than any other from Disney in 2008, nearly a quarter of a million dollars …

And he points out these Tweets from yet another ESPN staffer that apparently went unchecked:

And more!

So Disney bankrolls Obama’s campaign, also owns ESPN, allows glowing commentary of Obama from its contributors and on-air talent and censures Obama dissent from their talent. No, no bias here at all.