May 18, 2010
Cuddle up a little closer, big oil
Today's Senate hearings about the BP oil well blowout featured Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who got all kinds of accusations about the "coziness" in the relationship between oil companies and the government regulators that are supposed to keep things like this from happening. Salazar admitted that his department had gotten lax, saying "there's obviously things that are inappropriate" going on at Minerals Management Service, the agency in question, and that we need to "clean up that house."
Let's remember the subtext of what Salazar is talking about here. Aside from MMS not being very good regulators, there have also been all kinds of corrupt shenanigans going on there for years now. A report by the Department of the Interior from a year and a half ago found that government regulators were literally in bed with the oil companies they were supposedly regulating.
Some MMS staffers were having sex with their oil reps, while others were accepting the usual illegal free stuff like ski trips, football games, and Toby Keith concerts, as well as smoking pot and using cocaine at oil industry parties. That's on top of more run-of-the-mill corruption like funneling oil contract money to friends and letting oil companies underpay on their contracts.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said at the hearing, "It is long past time to drain the safety and environmental swamp that is MMS. This agency has been in denial about safety problems for years." The problems probably started during the boozy golf outing days of the Bush administration, when the guy in charge of the MMS royalties program was sleeping with his secretary and buying cocaine from her boyfriend. But the people running the show there now should have gotten their act together.
TrackBack URL for this entry: