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May 25, 2010

Inspector Gen. at Interior blasts Minerals Management Service close ties to Oil industry

By CREW Staff

As the nation struggles to deal with the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Inspector General at the Department of Interior has issued report detailing unsavory and unethical interactions between employees at the Minerals Management Service and the oil industry. This has the potential to become a very big story:

The Interior Department’s watchdog issued a scathing report on the government’s oil drilling regulator, accusing its employees of accepting gifts from the industry, doing drugs and exchanging pornography-filled e-mails.

 

Employees at the Minerals Management Service, under fire for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, regulated companies while negotiating employment with them — a finding that may bolster claims that the agency is too close to the oil industry and lacks the independence to regulate the industry. The findings were revealed by the department’s inspector general Tuesday.

 

Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall’s House Natural Resources Committee will have the inspector general testifying this week — he has been particularly angry at MMS.

 

“As if catching MMS employees literally in bed with industry officials wasn’t enough, MMS safety inspectors were flying high in private jets, taking bribes while allowing oil and gas companies to fill out their own safety inspection forms,” Rahall said. “ It’s past time for MMS to stop acting as a farm team for the industry — the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion is proof that this isn’t just a game.”

We've been trying to get more information on the oil spill in the Gulf. Last week, CREW and Greenpeace sent FOIA requests to four government agencies, seeking copies of the video feeds of the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and other documents related to efforts to mitigate or clean up the oil spill. The requests were sent to the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.The FOIA requests can be found here.

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