26 May 2010

When Did Problems with Gulf of Mexico Oil Drills Start?

Earlier this week the New York Times got an advance look at the U.S. Interior Department inspector general’s report on how the its Minerals Management Service dealt with companies drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. But Ian Urbina’s article on it neglected to drive home an important point, so I’ve edited accordingly:

Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week.

The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals Management Service from 2005 to 2007 [under the Bush-Cheney administration], also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry. . . .

In mid-2008 [under the Bush-Cheney administration], a minerals agency employee conducted four inspections on drilling platforms when he was also negotiating a job with the drilling company, a cover letter to the report said. . .

The inquiry began after investigators at the Office of the Inspector General received an anonymous letter, dated Oct. 28, 2008 [when it was clear that Barack Obama would soon replace the Bush-Cheney administration], addressed to the United States Attorney’s Office in New Orleans, alleging that a number of unnamed minerals agency employees had accepted gifts from oil and gas production company representatives, the report said. . . .

The report said the inspector general had developed confidential sources “who provided additional information pertaining to M.M.S. employees at the Lake Charles District Office, including acceptance of a trip to the 2005 Peach Bowl game [during the Bush-Cheney administration] that was paid for by an oil and gas company; illicit drug use; misuse of government computers; and inspection report falsification.” . . .

Some industry experts have speculated that the Deepwater spill and the report’s findings could explain the sudden resignation this month of Chris C. Oynes, who led the Gulf of Mexico region for the Minerals Management Service for about 12 years until he was promoted to a senior position in Washington in 2007 [by the Bush-Cheney administration].

Mr. Oynes is not mentioned in the inspector general’s report, and Interior Department officials have declined to answer questions about his resignation.

In a cover letter to Mr. Salazar, Ms. Kendall, the acting inspector general, said she wanted to emphasize that all the conduct highlighted predated Mr. Salazar’s tenure and his January 2009 revamping of the ethics code [right after the Bush-Cheney administration].
Back in February I did the same editing for a newspaper article about the Toyota recall. Of course, the Bush-Cheney administration had a consistent approach to policing large corporations.

1 comment:

nyrdyv said...

Can we look back at Eisenhower's warning now about the military-industrial complex?


Steven G. Willis