Why has the Federal Government completely fallen flat in its attempt to cap the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill? And how could such a thing happen in the first place? Mark Schleifstein of the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE gives us plenty of clues, reporting this week on the findings of internal investigation of the Minerals Management Service released this week.
The MMS is the Federal agency that controls oversight of all U.S. natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico and accounts for $14 billion per year in revenues from Federal offshore mineral leases.
The MMS, which is part of the Department of Interior, was found to have employees “accepting gifts from oil companies” that included private jet travel, hunting and fishing trips, Christmas parties and “even free tickets to see Louisiana State University beat the University of Miami in the 2005 Peach Bowl in Atlanta.”
Numerous MMS workers were also cited for downloading and emailing porn on U.S. government computers while on the job and “illicit” drug use.
In at least one case, an inspector for the Minerals Management Service admitted using crystal methamphetamine and said he might have been under the influence of the drug the next day at work, according to the report by the acting inspector general of the Interior Department.
The report adds to the climate of frustration and criticism facing the Obama administration in the monthlong oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, although it covers actions before the spill. Millions of gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf, endangering wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen, as scrutiny intensifies on a lax regulatory climate.
So what does that all have to do with the oil spill? Read more…