Minerals Management Service to undergo reform?

Salazar claims he will solve problems by dividing the oil leasing/revenue collecting agency-

It’s an obscure agency in the Dept of Interior to some, but not to the oil companies or the federal treasury. It collects more money than any federal agency except the IRS. It has been the seat of a number a scandals in recent years from undercollecting royalities, lax safety and environmental oversight, and giving out oil and gas leases for sex from oil lobbyists.

When Salazar took office he said these days were over.  He hopes splitting the environmental oversight and safety part of the agency from the leasing and royalty collection will help.

In other news, public support for more offshore drilling is collapsing in the polls. So is perception that Obama is doing a good job handling the situation.

Here’s a story from the Washington Post. Minerals Management Service to undergo radical overhaul. By Juliet Eilperin and Ed O’Keefe:






  1. RLMiller Avatar

    The move is slightly more useful than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s not a bad idea, but gives Obama room to say that a bureaucratic shuffle has cleaned house so that we can go back to “business as usual.”

  2. Richard Giallanzo,nj Avatar
    Richard Giallanzo,nj

    Get the bum out, we need a real secretary of interior. please

  3. Virginia Avatar

    Off with his head! (I just watched the Tudors last night.)

  4. RLMiller Avatar

    More, in tomorrow’s NYT:

    MMS ignored Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act in issuing Gulf permits.

    I am ill.

  5. JimT Avatar

    I knew it was a cesspool after the oil entertainment scandal, but this crap…Just one more Federal agency that things permits are impediments to giving industry what they want. What Salazar or the Justice Department should do is issue a cease and desist order on ALL of the rigs operating in non compliance until a review can be accomplished. And the crap you would hear about “gas prices” is just industry misdirection given the world wide commodity nature of oil supplies these days. It isn’t like Gulf oil goes to the Gulf Coast states automatically. Whoever pays..gets.

  6. william Huard Avatar
    william Huard

    Speaking of the oil spill- What is the difference between a 20.00 dollar streetwalker from DC and Sen Murkowski from Alaska- very little unfortunately.

  7. william Huard Avatar
    william Huard

    These senators have a very short memory- people from her own state lost everything as they waited 20 years to get compensation from Exxon- How can voters in the U.S want republicans in charge- it is mystifying to me. At least the dems try to change things for the better!

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Oil and corruption go hand in hand. If you look at other countries, those that rely heavily on oil are rarely democracies.

    The American states with a strong oil industry presence like Alaska and Texas are notable for corruption, lack of concern for the environment, social backwardness, and a closed political system.

  9. Cody Coyote Avatar

    If you read up on Minerals Management at WikiPedia, pay attention to the entries of former high-ranking MMS administrators who have been indicted or convicted of felony conflict of interest and such, or moving on to take lucrative jobs in industry that seem a little too cushy.

    The former Wyoming Speaker of the House, Randall Luthi of Star Valley WY , became the director of MMS under Bush – Cheney for the last two years, at the very time this Deepwater Horizon rig was granted exemption from NEPA and not being required to install a proper blowout preventer , etc.. By the way MMS has summarily approved 27 new offshore rigs SINCE the BP blowout. Categorical Exclusions for environmental assessments are Mineral Management’s S.O.P.

    Drill platforms in the North Sea and off the coast of Brazil are required to have very extensive BOP’s and other safeguards. Had those same rules been in place in the Gulf, we likely would have no monstrous disaster unfolding. The months ahead may tell the real story of the BP blowout , but don’t count on it. Haliburton knows how the game is played…

    Luthi actually replaced another former Wyoming politico, Jonnie Burton, who left MMS under a cloud during Bush-Cheney…that Denver sex and bribes in exchange for permits and government preferential treatment thing. Luthi used to work for both Congressman Dick Cheney and former US Senator Al Simpson earlier in his political life. I’m not sure where he is ” employed” at the moment.

    Corruption in mineral management, royalties, and permitting in Wyoming is a grossly underreported story . Minerals companies all but own our state government and are allowed to write legislation and set policies from behind the veils. Wyoming is just a Second World energy colony. The silver lining is it’s good we don’t have an ocean or Gulf lapping up on our shores. But we do have these Oil Shale deposits in the Green River basin…

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Cody Coyote,

      Thanks for pointing out the role that Wyoming politicos played during the Bush years into turning MMS into an environmentally dangerous cesspool of political corruption.

      We reported here that a lot of these kind of people (not just Wyoming) were “burrowing” into the Department of Interior for jobs that a new Administration could not quickly change even if they had nominated a good Secretary of Interior.

      I said on another thread today that oil and political corruption go hand-in-hand throughout the world. In the United States oil states like Alaska, Wyoming, Texas are notable examples.

  10. kt Avatar

    PEER sent put an e-mail this morning saying that Industry apologist Salazar’s splitting the agencies -but with many of the same people there – was like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  11. JimT Avatar

    Unfortunately, it may be that MMS has a very high number of “ticks”…people who burrowed in from political jobs and now are protected employees…much harder to get rid of now, but still have the same agenda…drill baby drill…

    I wonder if PEER could obtain a list of these folks and their positions via FOIA…

  12. william Huard Avatar
    william Huard

    Does anyone have the sierra article from 2007 i think which described the Bush administration and their attempt to undermine and circumvent the ESA on behalf of business interests- I had it saved on my computer until I had a crash and lost everything on mine. It was entitled “Developers and the feds cozy up”. Very good article- makes you really angry when you think how people just ignore the environment and regard it as a roadblock and an inconvenience to developement.

    1. kt Avatar

      This should be interesting – “Sally” making lame excuses:

      Salazar is scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the first time he has appeared before Congress since the April 20 explosion and subsequent spill, which has dumped an estimated 4 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
      Associated Press

  13. kt Avatar

    Many appear to believe Salazar isn’t up to the task …


    I loved the quote about how someone needs to be freezing evidence right now.

    But Maybe the Obama Admin’s the strategy so evidence ISN’T frozen: Put rancher Salazar in charge – allowing Industry to – in the end – be able to walk away …


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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