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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.

Originally posted to hannah on Thu May 27, 2010 at 03:51 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Laissez faire" is fine for the single person, (9+ / 0-)

    corporate entities of all kinds (private and public) need to be preemptively restrained.  

    Natural persons can be free because nature's limits are quite severe. Artificial persons need to be restrained.

    by hannah on Thu May 27, 2010 at 03:51:42 AM PDT

  •  We have created the penultimate predator - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller

    the corporation.

    The outrage at the MMS is overdue. However, the real problem is not specifics of government regulation. It is our continued reliance on carbon energy. Oil, gas, and coal are destructive to extract and burn. Government regulation can limit the damage but cannot eliminate it under the best of circumstances. And the big money associated with Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal will always corrupt government. We need to decarbonize our energy.

    Please help the people of Haiti

    by DWG on Thu May 27, 2010 at 04:06:37 AM PDT

    •  Yes, transporting carbon from the earth's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG

      crust into the atmosphere is a bad practice.  Doing it on the molecular level makes it worse because men, being visual creatures, have a hard time "seeing" what they can't see.
      An oil sheen on the surface of the Gulf is, for that reason, upsetting.  Which is why the oil extractors are using "dispersants" to make the oil in the wrong place less apparent.

      Carbon is obviously not good for men and other mobile organisms.  Which is why we exhale it.  Perhaps it's because carbon is a heat sink and most organisms are uniformly and particularly sensitive to temperature.

      Natural persons can be free because nature's limits are quite severe. Artificial persons need to be restrained.

      by hannah on Thu May 27, 2010 at 04:18:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Incorporation - a moral dodge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, Justus, laker

    I have come to think that the establishment of corporations has become a mechanism to avoid the normal moral burdens that regulate the interactions of ( real ) persons.

    Being a shareholder, employee, or director of a corporation allows us to feel no guilt or shame about valuing money above all else.

    This is truly the antithesis of almost all religions principles of 'right' or just.

    Nice trick, Eh?

    It's time for the pitchforks and torches! Guillotines are way too complicated.

    by No one gets out alive on Thu May 27, 2010 at 05:42:02 AM PDT

    •  The "knowledge of good and evil" is a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      No one gets out alive

      mixed bag.  The ability to recognize evil comes with an obligation to avoid it.  Some people respond to this negative by simply giving up knowledge.  The party of 'no' also says 'no' to 'know.'

      There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

      Donald Rumsfeld

      What Rumsfeld left out are the knowns that are denied, like the WMDs which were known to be absent but whose presence was desired.

      Conservatives have long delighted in linguistic games.  It's how they practice deception by making reality seem more complex than it is.

      Natural persons can be free because nature's limits are quite severe. Artificial persons need to be restrained.

      by hannah on Thu May 27, 2010 at 06:35:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dissolve the MMS? (0+ / 0-)

    What environmentally-safe fluid could we use?

    •  Well, see, that's the beauty of the virtual, (0+ / 0-)

      artificial world.  We need but say the word and MMS shall be no more.

      Natural persons can be free because nature's limits are quite severe. Artificial persons need to be restrained.

      by hannah on Thu May 27, 2010 at 06:37:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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