Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat representing New Hampshire, has called on Secretary Salazar to revamp the Department of the Interior by getting rid of the Minerals Management Service.
SHAHEEN: ABOLISH MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE AND START ANEW
May 26, 2010
(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to dismantle the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in order to end the culture of corruption and incompetence within the agency. Shaheen's letter comes on the heels of a report released by the Inspector General that describes MMS officials' unethical conduct prior to 2009, including illegal drug use, a culture of accepting gifts from oil and gas companies, falsification of inspection forms, and a revolving door of employment between MMS and the oil and gas industry. Salazar recently announced a reorganization of the troubled department, but Shaheen called for greater action.
Full letter below the fold.
The full text of the letter to Salazar follows:
Dear Secretary Salazar:
I am deeply troubled by the recent reports of the continued failings of the Minerals Management Service (MMS). The problems plaguing MMS transcend administrations - Democratic and Republican - and have been well documented. From bungling oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and depriving the federal treasury of billions of dollars in royalties to the ethics scandal of 2008 involving gifts, illegal drugs and sexual misconduct, MMS has had a culture of incompetence and corruption. This culture must change.
While the conduct detailed in the Inspector General's report released yesterday occurred prior to you becoming Secretary of the Interior, I am sure you share my outrage about the reports of illegal drug use, a culture of accepting gifts from oil and gas companies, e-mails involving inappropriate humor and pornography, falsification of inspection forms, and a revolving door of employment between MMS and the oil and gas industry.
A Washington Post article published May 25 describes the tendency of MMS officials to alter documents and ignore legal requirements for environmental protection to expedite the leasing process. The revelations that scientists have been silenced and warnings by other federal agencies ignored are a serious violation of the public trust and federal law. Moreover, it was disturbing to learn that MMS employees receive cash bonuses for meeting deadlines for offshore oil and gas exploration leases.
This is but the latest in a mounting body of evidence that suggests MMS is fundamentally broken and urgent steps must be taken to fix the agency.
While I appreciate your recent announcement that the Department will reorganize MMS, I fear that a culture of incompetence and corruption will still exist at the agency unless broad scale personnel changes accompany that reorganization. This fear is reinforced by the findings of the May 25 Inspector General Report. As you recently stated in the Senate Energy Committee in reference to reforming MMS, "We need to clean up that house." I think we need to clean out that house.
It is time to abolish MMS and start anew with a new agency and new people.
Thank you for your prompt attention to these concerns.
In addition to everything else, dissolving a portion of a public corporation would set a salutary example of how private corporations which often also do not satisfy the conditions of their charters are to be dealt with.
All corporations are "artificial persons" and as such should be subject to close supervision and regulatory restraint. The advantage of dispersed risk and individual relief from personal responsibility should not be augmented by letting corporations engage in whatever behavior they want without rule and regulation.
Individual natural persons have a right to do whatever they want and be punished for bad behavior after the fact because it is unlikely that one person will do irreparable damage and, besides, every natural person dies.
It makes little sense that we put to death natural persons who are destined to die anyway and let artificial persons (corporations) survive from generation to
generation with no effective check or regulation. It’s almost as if man created corporations to do the Creator one better. The irresponsible and unaccountable private corporation is a blasphemy.