BP, MMS: FUBAR

The firing of Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the Minerals Management Service, was a predictable political reaction but won't clean up MMS, which needs a top-to-bottom overhaul. Read about the Inspector General reports that describe what an abomination the MMS became during the Bush administration. Regulators routinely looked the other way to accommodate oil industry officials, from whom they accepted gifts like sports tickets and hunting and fishing trips. The report describes how regulators allowed the industry to fill out inspection reports that MMS was tasked with writing, and once oil officials filled the reports out in pencil, the regulators would trace over them in pen.

Though no one at MMS has been blamed for the April 20 tragedy, it is worth noting that the Obama administration did not move to clean up MMS and its way-too-tight relationship with industry. The shameful record of the MMS started during the Bush years, but the Obama administration owns it now. As President Obama seeks to defend a historic and unpopular expansion of government, taxpayers can look upon the agency tasked with policing the oil industry and enforcing existing safety regulations for drilling with utter disgust.

What will be done?


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