Today’s story in the New York Times regarding collusion and corruption between the Mineral Management Service and the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico is stunning. But, “stunning” is less than surprising when it comes to the many ways in which MMS and the Department of Interior has allowed the oil industry to dictate the terms of oil operations.
The BP oil disaster is well into its fifth week and the grumbling is growing that the government should move BP aside in order to shut down the oil geyser and get on with the clean-up. The tragic irony is that the federal government cannot stop the oil geyser but has had the chance to stop the collusion and corruption which results in oil spills, fraud, environmental damage and the erosion of professional conduct. Because MMS broke down years ago we are now at the mercy of BP’s last minute inventions.
The “Culture of Ethical Failure” was well described by the DOI Inspector General in this report in Sept. of 2008. Read the first two pages. Chuckle about the part where the IG details illicit sex, alcohol and drug abuse. Now, go back to the first paragraph and re-read the mention that one person pled guilty to a criminal charge but others ”escaped potential administrative action by departing from federal service, with the usual celebratory send-offs that allegedly highlighted the impeccable service that these individuals had given the Federal Government.” As far as the other employees that were referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution? “That office declined to prosecute.”