Minerals Management Service

Yesterday a report was released by the US Department of the Interior’s inspector general indicating that inspectors with the Minerals Management Service (the agency charged with inspection and regulation of oil drilling and mining operations; the leasing of offshore parcels for drilling and mining; safety and environmental monitoring of drilling and mining safety; and the collection of royalties from oil and gas companies) routinely accepted gifts from the companies they were responsible for policing.

The report covers the Lake Charles Louisiana district of the Minerals Management Service for a period ending in 2008; which is not the same as the are in which the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig which exploded on 20 April 2010 is in.

The report included details of the routine acceptance of gifts comprised of hunting trips, college football tickets, and meals and adds to the growing portrait of the Minerals Management Service as part of a corrupt industry — in fact inspectors in the Minerals Management Service were often friends of officials in the industry, former employees (and sometime retirees) of the oil and gas industry before the assumed responsibility in the federal government for regulating those businesses.

Government employees are not allowed to accept gifts from companies they do business with — and certainly the appearance of accepting gifts for a company that you are intended to regulate is suspect to say the least.

While there’s no direct evidence that such negligence by federal employees contributed to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; there would be no way to assure the general public that minor (and perhaps major) infractions were not overlooked by regulators who didn’t want to risk upsetting the status quo and losing their gravy train.

Certainly we can ask our federal elected officials to explain to us how something like this could happen.  After all, most of them take large contributions, favors, and gifts from individuals and businesses who want to sway their votes.

Originally posted 2010-05-26 02:00:55.