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"Bending over for Big Oil became the ideological posture of the Bush White House, and, under Cheney's cruel whip, the practice trickled down through the regulatory bureaucracy. The Minerals Management Service -- the poster child for "agency capture phenomena" -- hopped into bed with the regulated industry -- literally. A 2009 investigation of the Minerals Management Service found that agency officials "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used coc aine and marijuana and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives." Three reports by the Inspector Gen
Last year the Obama administration granted oil giant BP a special exemption from a legal requirement that it produce a detailed environmental impact study on the possible effects of its Deepwater Horizon drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico, an article Wednesday in the Washington Post reveals.
Federal documents show that the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave BP a "categorical exclusion" on April 6, 2009 to commence drilling with Deepwater Horizon even though it had not produced the impact study required by a law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The report would have included probable ecological consequences in the event of a spill.
The exemption came less than one month after BP had requested it in a March 10 "exploration plan" submitted to the MMS. The plan said that because a spill was "unlikely," no additional "mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources." BP also assured the MMS that any spill would not seriously hurt marine wildlife and that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected."
Kierán Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Post that the Obama administration's exemption effectively "put BP entirely in control," adding, "The agency's oversight role has devolved to little more than rubber-stamping British Petroleum's self-serving drilling plans."
...Obama's decision to disregard scientific evidence is not the result of a mistaken policy, however. It is the result of definite class interests.
According to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics, BP gave more campaign donations to the Obama campaign in the 2008 election cycle than to any other politician—$71,000 in all—though in total it gave slightly more to Republican candidates. BP also took the step of hiring the Podesta Group, the lobbying firm headed up by Obama confidant John Podesta and his brother Tony, paying the firm $720,000 since 2008. All told, BP has spent just shy of $20 million on federal lobbying over the last two years.
...The close working relationship between BP and the Obama administration has continued even in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.