Foot Dragging on the Gulf Spill
It remains to be seen whether the Gulf oil spill will become Obama’s Katrina. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll indicates that at the very least, some people believe that Obama is not doing enough to fix things in the Gulf. The poll found that 59% of respondents do not believe that the President has a clear plan for cleaning up the spill. In addition, the majority of respondents believe that more regulation of offshore drilling is needed. Interestingly, at the same time, the majority of those polled also indicated that they believed that the accident was a result of a failure on the part of the federal government to enforce regulations rather than inadequate regulation.
Criticism continues to be heaped on the federal agency responsible for ”regulating” off-shore drilling, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and rightly so. A new report, also in the New York Times, finds yet another maddening instance of MMS’ appalling failure to fulfill its mandate. A device known as a blind shear ram was in place at the Deepwater Horizon well, and was supposed to be the last line of defense in preventing a blow-out. Of course, it failed. What is particularly infuriating is that MMS ignored its own experts as to how the risk of blind shear ram failure could be minimized.
There have been some major changes at MMS, so hopefully it won’t be business as usual once the country forgets about off-shore drilling again. The new director of MMS is Michael R. Bromwich, who used to be an inspector general over at DOJ (the same guys will intervene in your qui tam case, if you’re lucky!). The new agency will have a quick-response, SWAT team-like unit that will supposedly be able to respond with alacrity to allegations of crooked officials or misbehaving companies. The new investigative unit will have its work cut out for it. The old MMS could not be described by any stretch of the imagination as ”ethical.” Doing crystal meth and then going out to do inspections? Why not? Going huntin’ and fishin with on the oil company’s dime? Yup. Inspecting drilling platforms of the oil company with which you’re simultaneously negotiating for a job? Why the heck not? (Don’t forget the crystal meth!).
This is all to say that the level of corruption in this agency is absurdly hilarious, and it will likely be very difficult both to root it out and prevent it from re-occurring, fungus-like, in the future.
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