Lawmakers are looking at how to reform the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which oversees offshore drilling. Reports before and after the Gulf oil spill show it is deeply intertwined with Big Oil.
The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) is peopled by those who hold the strings on America's natural treasures and is courted by those who, like the Deepwater Horizon drillers, want to exploit those resources.
Yet in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon accident, it is becoming apparent that the firewall that should exist between these two groups – the regulators and the regulated – is closer to a revolving door.
The Gulf oil spill has given fresh urgency to calls to reform the MMS, which has long been accused of having too cozy a relationship with Big Oil. But as the process of reform starts, new reports are revealing just how intertwined the MMS and Big Oil are – and how difficult it will be to separate one from the other.
Her exasperation is a response to findings like those of acting Interior Department Inspector General Mary Kendall, who released a report this week that said relationships between MMS and industry officials often date back to kindergarten. The relationships could create a situation where personal connections undermine the MMS's ability to impartially oversee the oil-drilling industry, she told the House Natural Resources Committee during a hearing Wednesday.