(KCPW News) U.S. Senator Bob Bennett continues to hold up a vote on the nomination of David Hayes to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Interior, drawing criticism from environmental groups. The senator still wants to hear more from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on his promise to review 77 parcels that were pulled from a controversial oil and gas lease auction in southern Utah.
"We have seen federal government reviews, and they can go on for years and years, and in fact they can never, ever take place, so what I've said is I want you to do the review in a very rapid fashion, and justify publicly the decision that you have made. Give us the results of your review," he told KCPW.
Bennett says the secretary's decision to pull the leases is causing oil and natural gas developers to give up on Utah and focus on other states, like Texas.
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Conservation Director Stephen Bloch says Senator Bennett's actions are harmful to Utahns and all Americans, preventing the Interior Department from being fully staffed and ready to do its job. He says there's nothing else Secretary Salazar can do to satisfy Bennett's concerns.
"I think that the three of them, Salazar, Strickland and Hayes have been very clear that they're prepared to share their strategy for moving forward on those leases with the senators," he said. "I believe they've done so, they've stated explicitly that they will get back to the senators with a specific timeframe for moving ahead, and reconsidering some of those leases."
Unless he withdraws it, Senator Bennett's hold on the nomination can only be overcome by a cloture vote, requiring the consent of 60 or more senators. We'll have an extensive conversation with Bennett tomorrow morning at 11 on KCPW's Politics Up Close.