Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked Senate leaders to set aside legislation to raise his annual salary by $19,600 after a senator threatened to block it if the pace of “new” permitting in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) did not return to the pre-BP plc Macondo well disaster rate. Salazar fired off the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) vowed to block the request for the pay raise if the department did not resume issuance of “new” permits for GOM deepwater exploratory drilling at the same rate before the explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig. “It’s just my way of keeping the boot on the neck” of Interior, Vitter wrote in his letter to Salazar last Monday. Although the department has reissued a number of permits to resume activities that were interrupted as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, it has issued only one “new” deepwater exploratory drilling permit since the moratorium was formally lifted in October. Salazar accused Vitter of “attempted coercion.” That position “is wrong, and it must be made perfectly clear that his attempt cannot and will not affect the execution of the solemn legal responsibility that the department undertakes on behalf of the American people,” Salazar said. The bill to raise Salazar’s salary was introduced by Reid earlier this month. His current salary is $180,000, The Hill reported.

Mountainview Energy Ltd. announced that its founder, Joseph Montalban, has resigned from the company’s board of directors effective May 19. Montalban began his career in the oil and gas industry in the early 1950s, first as a roughneck in Alberta and then as a vice president for Flank Oil. He discovered oil in the Bakken Shale after drilling the Bugby #1 well in Glacier County, MT for Flank in 1957. He formed Montalban Drilling in the late 1950s and two public companies in the early 1970s, which would become MSR Exploration Ltd. in 1983. He also founded Gypsy Highview Gathering System Inc. In 2001 Montalban and his son, Patrick, formed Mountainview, which trades on the TSX Venture Exchange. Mountainview, based in Cut Bank, MT, is focused on exploration, production and development of the Bakken and Three Forks shales in the Williston Basin and the south Alberta Bakken shale play.

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