Boren’s Valiant Defense of the Oil Industry

Photo courtesy of Dan Boren's <a href="">House website</a>.

In announcing a new plan for oil and gas leasing earlier this week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made it clear that the Obama administration is taking a different tack from its predecessor when it comes to offering public land up for drilling.

“The difference is that under the prior administration, the oil and gas industry were essentially the kings of the world,” said Salazar. “Whatever they wanted to happen essentially happened. This department was essentially a handmaiden of the oil and gas industry.”

“We have brought that to an end,” he continued.

Salazar, who had quite a week between this big announcement and the rumors that he might head back to Colorado to run for governor, ticked off plenty of oil fans with the remark. The most virulent response, however, has come from Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren, who blasted off what his own office described as a “blistering letter” to Salazar:

Why do policy-makers within the administration deny the connection between your so-called American energy “kings of the world” and the millions of American jobs they provide? The companies affected by these reforms are not global corporate conglomerates. Rather, they are smaller, independent producers that drill 90 percent of the wells in the U.S. struggling to stay alive in this dwindling economy. To these companies, and the people behind them whose blood, sweat, and tears have helped to build this country, statements such as your “kings of the world” comment are a profound affront.

Of course, Boren’s earnest defense of the oil industry isn’t too unexpected. His is among the most dismal environmental records for congressional Democrats, with a 36 percent grade from the League of Conservation Voters in the 110th Congress, and a 27 lifetime score. He was also one of the Democrats who voted against the House climate bill last June.

He is, however, a favorite of the oil and gas industry. It has been his biggest contributor during his three terms in office, at $484,360. Which of course puts his valiant defense of the industry in perspective.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.