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Ken Salazar’s BP Fox, Sylvia Baca

June 7th, 2010 · 12 Comments

Last week, I pondered whether President Obama should fire Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. If you notice, this past week, Salazar has not been in front of the camera or making many public statements. He’s no longer directly in the line of fire and probably in part because of his clumsy performance with cliched statements about putting his boot on BP’s neck and sending his deputy to the Gulf without a change of underwear. It looked like Ken Salazar had been taking a siesta for the past several weeks under his big ten gallon hat.

To lessen Salazar’s credibility in holding BP accountable, people are beginning to ask questions about Sylvia Baca, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Prior to being offered this job by Secretary Salazar, Baca was general manager for Social Investment Programs and Strategic Partnerships at BP America Inc. in Houston. She had served in several management positions since 2001. In addition, Baca served in the Clinton administration as the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management in the Department of Interior. So essentially, Baca took a detour through the revolving door and ended up back at Interior with a job offer from Ken Salazar.

When President Obama began his term in January 2009, he issued an executive order to limit lobbyist involvement in government. Much was made of this ban because it made filling appointments a bit more difficult. Of course, some people who may have technically not been ‘registered lobbyists’ were able to work their way back into government circumventing the order. But the spirit and intent of this move was to prevent the collusive nature of government and business. Putting someone like Baca back in the Department of Interior (although she may have not been a registered lobbyist in any capacity at BP) gives one reason to pause considering the new policy President Obama was attempting to sell to the public. What was Ken Salazar thinking?

Baca has already been involved in a controversial program to remove wild horses off of public land and onto private land purchased on the tax payer’s dime. The Desert Independent reports the following:

“Six months after beginning her second stint at DOI, Baca attended the December 2009 BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Reno, representing the “Salazar Plan” to the Board. The Plan would move 26,000 wild horses from the West to preserves in the East and Midwest, on private land purchased with taxpayer dollars. “The Plan requires hundreds of millions of dollars for land acquisitions, yet it’s being sold as an eco-tourism opportunity. People are thrilled by the sight of mustangs running free, by battling stallions and long-legged foals,” states Phantom Stallion series author Terri Farley who attended the meeting. “But this Plan takes our wild horses off public lands, castrates all stallions and sends segregated, non-reproducing animals to pastures back East. It’s expensive, unnecessary and cruel. And for what? Most tax-payers would choose the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing mustangs in the wild, over funding more grazing cows and more oil and gas installations pounding away.”

During a break in the meeting in Reno, Cloud Foundation Director Ginger Kathrens, used the opportunity to say hello to Secretary Baca and show her pictures of the Calico horses of northwestern Nevada. The horses were slated for a dead of winter removal because, BLM contended, they might starve if left on their half-million acre home range. “Craig Downer had taken wonderful pictures of the wild horses and then enlarged them for the Board to see,” said Kathrens. “When I showed her the pictures and called her attention to the health and beauty of the horses, she stated it didn’t look like they had anything to eat and walked away.”

Then in April 2010, the Cloud Foundation scheduled a meeting with BLM Director Bob Abbey in an attempt to find solutions to the management difficulties within the Wild Horse and Burro Program and to work collaboratively with the BLM. Deputy Secretary Baca attended that meeting “and we were met with open hostility from her,” states Kathrens. “At one point she indicated we should thank them (the BLM) for not euthanizing the wild horses held in holding corrals, intimating that they had the legal authority to do so.””

Baca’s response to the public is troubling, especially since she is supposed to be a steward of the land and environment.

Because people are questioning oil industry insiders who are serving in administration, the Department of Interior has issued the following statement:

“Salazar spokesperson Kendra Barkoff issued a statement noting that Baca, under federal government ethics standards, “has been and is recused from participating personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which BP is or represents a party, for a period of two years following her appointment.” She also noted that Baca is not working on offshore drilling at the agency (her post deals with on-shore drilling).”

Whether its on or offshore drilling, the appointment of Baca, who spent years at BP, undermines the credibility of the Department of Interior and their efforts to hold BP accountable. The Baca appointment shows that Latinos can also spin through the revolving door, much like any other political appointee. Salazar was supposed to clean up the corruption in the Department of Interior, but placing foxes in the hen house creates the impression of a conflict of interest and does little to inspire the public’s faith in this agency.

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Tags: Barack Obama · Government Accountability · Secretary of Interior Salazar

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anna // Jun 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Re: “in part because of his clumsy performance with cliched statements about putting his boot on BP’s neck ”

    That wasn’t clumsy.

  • 2 Michaelr // Jun 7, 2010 at 10:19 am

    And you wonder why inept and collusive are not harsh enough words? BP America has their very own insider running the day to day activities at the Department of Interior…Sylvia Baca. This adds another stain to Ken Salazar’s low character and definition of public service. And why am I not surprised? Does the public interest even register at all with these people?

  • 3 theKaiser // Jun 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    No surprises there. I am sure Ken Salazar filled his office with other former oil lobby employees. He knows who he represents and works for.

  • 4 Mike // Jun 9, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I am astounded at how much you have to say about a subject upon which you know nothing. When facts allude you, you obviously turned to fictions to support your thesis, pobrecito pendejo!
    Sylvia has “nothing” to do with any issues dealing with the gulf tragedy, yet that fact is unimportant to you. I’m not going to spend my time alerting you to facts any more than I would my perro stupido, even though I know he is smarter than you will ever be and would have a better chance of realizing how defaming your scribblings are.

  • 5 El Cholo // Jun 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    You can’t ask people who were employed at high levels by BP America to regulate BP America. That’s collusion. That’s a conflict of interest. Most people go to jail when they attempt to collude. This says everything about Ken Salazar, and how incompetent he is to appoint a person who recently worked for BP America to this position. But he knew that, because she went through an FBI background check. Or did she? This is like asking Bernie Madoff to hold on to your grocery money. And this says everything about Sylvia Baca.

  • 6 doctorH // Jun 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    You’re absolutely right, this says everything about Sylvia Baca and Ken Salazar. All that education mixed up with moral ineptitude is a bad combination to regulate a company/industry that is at the moment killing all the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. Ken Salazar must think the Department of Interior still utilizes the same agenda as the Bush Administration.

  • 7 CRAIG ILES // Jun 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    THIS IS WHAT IS DISGUSTING ABOUT THE INTEGRITY OF MINORITIES WHOM THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IDOLIZES AND DEIFIES.
    THEY ARE AS CORRUPT AND SELF CENTERED JERKS AS ANY GOP POLITICAL APPOINTEE AND OFTENTIMES MORE SO SINCE THEY CLOAK THEIR HYPOCRACY IN LIBERALISM.

    INCOMPETENT CRAVEN JERKS WHO SHOULD BE FIRED. OBAMA IS A TWO FACED LIAR.

  • 8 craig iles // Jun 13, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    WELL, WE ALL KNOW WHY BILL CLINTON HIRED HER : his personal penchant for dalliance with pretty women WAS NOTORIOUS and the LEWINSKI AFFAIR dirtied the PRESIDENCY like no other.
    EVIDENCE TO DATE SOUNDS LIKE BY HER ACTIONS SYLVIA BACA IS AN ARROGANT ELITIST UNITED CONGRESSIONAL WHORES OF CORPORATE AMERICA.

    SYLVIA BACAS PATH : democrat political appointee ; SCRAPS TO THE LATINOS
    THEN OFFLOADED BY THE CLINTONS TO BP
    WHERE SHE LEARNED THE ROPES AND WAITED TO GET IN AGAIN THRU THE BACK DOOR SO THAT THE DEMOCRATS WOULD HAVE AN OBIDENT CORPORATE STOOGE READY AND WILLING TO DO LAND RAPE FOR OIL LIKE SALAZAR ALLOWED FOR
    OIL UNDER WATER AND OFFSHORE.
    BOTH SHOULD BE FIRED BUT WONT BE BECAUSE OBAMA IS NOTHING MORE THAN A SMOOTH TALKING INTERLOQUITOR FOR THE MINSTREL SHOW HE RUNS FOR CORPORATE AMERICAS BEHALF

  • 9 CAngelena // May 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    @Craig, use your lowercase voice. This is a very important article that pertains to the future of government regulation. Baca is a factor for people who want Latino politicians to represent them in some way, which in no way falls along democrat/republican or progressive/social conservative lines. This article is looking at the role of government – all sides of it, and examining what we (all) people, but especially what the Latino voters from all points in the political spectrum want that to be.

  • 10 Justin Case // Dec 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    http://www.petition2congress.com/2710/ken-salazar-secretary-blms-resignation/

  • 11 Barbara Ellen // Dec 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    USDA Has Disproportionate Influence on BLM Wild Horse Board

    December 23, 2011

    By Steven Long

    Photo by Laura Leigh

    HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The United States Department of Agriculture has an unusually stout influence over appointments to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board of the federal Bureau of Land Management. The giant cabinet department that serves the needs of farmers and ranchers has veto power to appointments to the panel that oversees equine wildlife management on BLM lands.

    “It’s in the board’s charter but is not in a statute,” said Tom Gorey, BLM chief Washington Spokesman. The charter was updated in July, 2010.

    While the board’s responsibility is not to set policy, but to advise, the Wild Horse and Burro panel has served as a rubber stamp for BLM “gather” policy that has resulted in the capture, killing, and holding of tens of thousands of wild animals in giant pastures at taxpayer expense. The policy has cost so much in that the federal agency depletes its entire $60 million wild horse budget each year. Often, as soon as horses are removed they are replaced by cattle.

    Last year hundreds of horses died in the “gathers” including one in Nevada during the dead of winter. Typically, the horses are stampeded by helicopter into a trap. One foal ran so hard during a chase it lost its hooves and died. The agency is the subject of several lawsuits in different jurisdictions over alleged inhumane treatment of the animals, and denial of access to press and public access its captures. Recently allegations have surfaced that BLM vets routinely castrate stallions without the benefit of anesthesia.

    Asked how the USDA, and by extension the ranching industry, got veto power over a wildlife board in the first place, Gory responded saying, “The charter was renewed (and possibly revised) during the late 1990s when Pat Shea of Utah was BLM Director. The reason USDA is involved is that the Forest Service manages a small number (2,000 or so) of wild horses and burros, in accordance with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.”

    Wild horse advocates claim that more than a million cattle graze on BLM lands, much of which is covered under the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Acto of 1971, the “Wild Horse Annie Law.” Stockmen lease BLM land at the below market price of $1.35 per cow and calf per month. Yet Gorey was unable to provide Horseback the exact number of animals grazing under lease.

    “We manage cattle in accordance with the provisions of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978.” He told Horseback Magazine. “We don’t count head of cattle but do keep track of forage used. In Fiscal Year 2010, livestock consumed 8.2 million forage units, known as animal unit months. Since most grazing is seasonal, the way to estimate the number of livestock grazing on BLM land year-round is to divide 8.2 million by 12 (months). For more info, see our grazing page on http://www.blm.gov in our “What We Do” section.”

    Three board members terms expire January 8, 2012. They include Robyn Lohnes, a controversial appointee who operates the Washington based American Horse Protection Association, Dr. Boyd Spratling, a Nevada vet from the extremely rural town of Deeth, and Janet Jankura of Richfield, Ohio.

    Tags: BLM, chase, deaths, helicopter, hooves, laura leigh, mustangs, Stampede, wild horse and burro advisory board, Wild Horses

    11 Responses to “ USDA Has Disproportionate Influence on BLM Wild Horse Board ”

    Louie Cocroft on December 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    This bears more scrutiny. These “alphabet soup” agencies their fingers in too many pies:

    http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/16955/
    Debbie Coffey Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.
    July 8, 2011 by ppjg
    “By restricting access to grazing land, for example, land and related feed resources become relatively scarce, so technical change will move towards making more efficient use of these resources…The same applies to all other natural resources that feed into the livestock production process, such as water or nutrients.
    THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – INTERNATIONAL OVERVIEW
    On the U.S.D.A website, there is a page with an “International Overview” stating “All of agriculture has become global. For example, the success of the U.S. farm sector is increasingly dependent on our ability to trade and compete with other nations. Similarly, the science of agriculture depends on international research partnerships to address national issues of food safety, sustainability, resource management, biotechnology, and crop and livestock disease prevention.
    In 2007, the U.S.D.A. signed an agreement with the FAO to support the development of sustainable agriculture (agricultural biotechnology) in developing countries.

    AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve been going to the roundups of our wild horses (the Bureau of Land Management is removing the wild horses from their federally protected Herd Management Areas, then leasing the same land for $2 an acre for oil and gas lease sales, or permitting new mining and mining expansions to foreign owned companies). Some ranchers think these wild horse roundups will help them gain more grazing for their livestock. I think the wild horses are the canary in the coal mine. Ranchers, your cattle and sheep will be next. As go these American icons that stand as symbols of our freedom, so goes our freedom.

    Reply

    LynnIL on December 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    We advocates need to know what we can do to put the BLM, and the USDA on notice that their conduct in handleing our wild horses and burros is not what the American people want. I keep writing the BLM but should we be writing to the USDA and APHIS too? Who? Does anyone know? I wanted to write APHIS about that inspector standing there watching the wrangler hot shot the burros but didn’t know where to go with it.

    Reply

    Louie Cocroft on December 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Lynn, this is the message from AMERICAN WILD HORSE PRESERVATION CAMPAIGN. When you send a letter to BLM, send copies to your congressmen, as well:

    Help us continue to build a strong public record of opposition to the BLM’s continued giveaway of our public lands to the livestock industry to the detriment of the environment, our wild horses and other wildlife species!

    Reply

    Justin Case on December 24, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Hi Folks

    It seems to me they are after more tahn just wild horses, they want it a mineral right and they are selling our country out from underneath us. I say where there is smoke there is fire. I think they are after the wild horses because people love them. I think they want all the wild horses dead and much much more land our freedom and so much more. A world without these tactics would be better without wild horses would be devestrating. If they want to murder the horses they need to put their pilots licenses from the helecopters on the table. Unethical people like this have a past and problems and should not be flying helecopers injurting poor helpess animals. What a buch of control freaks….

    http://wyofile.com/2011/03/blm-scrutiny/

    http://www.pogo.org/press-room/pogo-in-the-news/natural-resources/nr-doi-20110310.html

    http://wyofile.com/2009/09/feds-gone-wild-part-1/

    http://www.pogo.org/search/search.jsp?query=ken+salazar ethical conduct of BLM

    http://www.pogo.org/search/search.jsp?query=usda

    http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/alerts/contract-oversight/co-fcmd-20090325.html

    http://www.atvmagonline.com/2011/06/interior-department-reverses-wild-lands-policy/

    http://farmwars.info/?p=6530

    http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/usda-closing-roads-to-public-lands-while-opening-doors-for-the-united-nations/

    Reply

    Tom on December 24, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Wait… he (Gorey) said they don’t count how many cattle are released? So they have no idea if a rancher is putting 200 or 5000 cattle out to graze our lands to nothing? More BLM math at your service! Wait till the cattlemen find out the BLM is ‘basically’ selling off a huge amount of land for things like geo-thermal energy, solar power, oil pipelines and their leases won’t be renewed. They think the BLM is on their side. They aren’t removing the horses just so the cattlemen can dump more cows out there. Those of you who don’t believe it, might want to look into renewable energies.

  • 12 Barbara Ellen // Nov 23, 2012 at 10:56 am

    My questions is Ken Salazar needs to be investigated first to see his affilation with BP. He needs to be checked out to see his involvement. This information needs to be decided and checked out particularly what the repoter has to say and the secret documents for wild horses needs to be all a part of the inverstigation.BP gulf disaster and Purina being the #1 company in the world these companies as seem to feed Ken Salazar and BP Oil in the world.

    “Is Ken Salazar really beating a dead horse when we talk about how Ken Salazar is going to be severe on BP oil. Ha!!”

    I don’t think so. Check his history with BP oil and Purina after 15 name changes.

    Maybe if we look at Ken Salazar history in Colorado /Bush era we will find that after several name changes Horse and Wild Horses have been feeding BP Nutrician/BP oil is the owner, during a down market and now.

    I sure BP has more than a drop in the bucket and more to spare. Give back our horses and stop making them into dog food. Somehow I am not feeling BP oils pain or Sec. Salazar sorry to the reporter. I think Kens has done enough damage to the USA and the Wild Horses. He needs to take thousands of horses from GOV prison camps. Let the horses go home to public lands ~ their home.

    Ken Salazar needs to be investigated for possible removal. There are thousands of horses in holding and this violates the Wild Horse ACT. Beef abd pet foods are short sidered products for our future. A distruction of all natural resouces and wild horses is not the answer and we need some one who can do the job like Congressman Raul M. Grijalva.

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