Who is Elgie Holstein and why he is an expert on off-shore oil and natural gas drilling? 

While reading this morning's Wall Street Journal news article bearing the headline "Drilling is stalled even after the ban is lifted," my eyes came across a quote from Elgie Holstein, described as "an Environmental Defense Fund staff expert."

Since the focus of the piece was on the difficulties energy companies are finding in the post-Deepwater Horizon regulatory world, I wondered how much actual experience Holstein has in off-shore oil or natural gas drilling. So I googled his name and found EDF's news release announcing his appointment in 2009 as a vice president for rivers and deltas.

The release included lots of laudatory comments about Holstein's experience and knowledge, but something stood out in the context of the Journal news article - all of the experience the EDF considered relevant to Holstein's hiring concerned his various jobs in government.

Consider this graph:

"During the Clinton administration, Mr. Holstein served as: chief of staff at the Department of Energy, senior adviser to Commerce Secretary William Daley, Assistant Secretary of NOAA, associate director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science at the Office of Management and Budget and as special assistant to the president for economic policy at the White House National Economic Council. Since 2001, he has worked as a consultant on a variety of governmental and private sector initiatives."

Put another way, it appears Holstein's entire career has been on a public payroll or using his experience on the public payroll to enable his consultant activities to fill the gaps between government jobs in Democratic administrations.

That said, I have no doubt that Holstein is indeed an expert when the topic is how bureaucratic red tape is manufactured, and he's no doubt picked up a lot of knowledge and insight about how energy companies deal with government.

But what experience does he have working for an energy company doing off-shore oil and natural gas exploration, development and production?

More to come.


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Mark Tapscott

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