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Yesterday the Office of the Inspector General released a report which addresses a number of allegations that Minerals Management

For a brief overview you can go to
ProPublica but here is a snippet:

The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report [2] this morning indicating as much. At one Gulf Coast office of MMS, agency officials attended sporting events [3] on the dime of oil companies, stored porn [4] on company computers, used cocaine and crystal meth [4], and falsified inspection reports [5].

Secretary Salazar called the report "...deeply disturbing..." (Note:The report accounts for activities from 2000 to 2008)

Some of the Lowlights from Pro Publica:

On receiving gifts:

An MMS clerical employee informed investigators that one inspector at the MMS Lake Charles Office had told her "everyone has gotten some sort of gift before at some point" from an oil and gas company representative.

On special treatment for "good friends" in the oil industry[8], from a 2006 e-mail exchange between an MMS inspector and an employee of ConocoPhillips:

The e-mail chain began with the inspector sending the Conocophillips employee an e-mail with the subject line, "Civil Penalty Case recaps - 1st quarter 2006." He stated, "These are the fines that we assessed to different companies for breaking the rules." The Conoco Phillips employee responded, "[E]ver get bribed for some of that?" He replied, "They try all the time." The Conoco Phillips employee responded back, "[E]ver take em?" the inspector said, "I accept ‘gifts’ from certain people. But we have VERY strict ethic standards as you could imagine." The Conoco Phillips employee replied, "[C]ertain people, meaning women?" the inspector said, "No. meaning good friends that I wouldn’t write up anyway."

And the one I personally find most disturbing

On falsified inspection reports:

Another confidential source told investigators that some MMS inspectors had allowed oil and gas production company personnel located on the platform to fill out inspection forms. The forms would then be completed or signed by the inspector and turned in for review. According to the source, operating company personnel completed the inspection forms using pencils, and MMS inspectors would write on top of the pencil in ink and turn in the completed form.

In light of the BP disaster you wonder about the personal relationships (from the report):

According to [MMS Lake Charles District Manager Larry] Williamson, many of the MMS inspectors had worked for the oil and gas industry and continued to be friends with industry representatives. "Obviously, we’re all oil industry," he said.
"We’re all from the same part of the country. Almost all of our inspectors have worked for oil companies out on these same platforms. They grew up in the same towns. Some of these people, they’ve been friends with all their life. They’ve been with these people since they were kids. They’ve hunted together. They fish together. They skeet shoot together ....They do this all the time."

By the way, I have not even brought up the drug use and pornography, but yeah that's in there too.

This is just one office, but it highlights the close relationship between the oil and gas industry and the government.  The truth is sad but true, the best people to monitor are folks in the industry, which means that they are often too close to be objective, and it is not just the Department of the Interior, it happens everywhere at all levels of government with all aspects or industry. It seemed to be especially true during the Bush Administration where industry leaders frequently got to write their own regulations (See my previous diary on how this impacted the Massey Coal Mine Tragedy).

Originally posted to Gangster Octopus on Wed May 26, 2010 at 09:53 AM PDT.

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