On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, Energy Secretary Steve Chu distanced himself from the limited and misleading aspects of the Administration’s "moratorium" on new offshore drilling permits.

Reponding to a question from Maddow about Monday’s New York Times story that MMS was still issuing new permits despite the supposed moratorium announced by the President and Secretary Salazar, Chu said that if it were up to him, he would impose a broader moratorium on all new [presumably offshore?] drilling activities whether or not they already had existing permits.

Maddow: I’m starting to worry about the internal relationships within, among government agencies, in terms of actually knowing what we’re doing right now.

Chu: Well, again, I can only, I think . . . in the New York Times this morning I read that an interpretation of what you mean by "new permits" in drilling. That’s what I read in the New York Times, and . . . personally, I think we should stop all new drilling, whether its preapproved or whatever, until we get to the bottom of this. I think that will be done. So yes, the government is a big bureaucracy, and I hope that’s been fixed.

That puts him directly at odds with the Administration’s policy to allow some new drilling permits on pre-approved projects, which Carol Browner called "modifications," for new or different drilling activities at previously permitted sites.

Chu’s policy makes sense; it’s consistent with putting the public interest before the industry’s interest given the risk involved.

Now the Administration, which has brought out its Nobel laureate Secretary to bolster its credibility on handling the BP oil disaster, must now explain why it’s ignoring his sound advice.