An Agency Whose Slogan Was ‘Drill Baby Drill’

Posted by | August 26, 2010 10:03 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

It’s a long read, but the expose in yesterday’s Washington Post on the sad life of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is well worth it.  Lots of choice quotes, but here is one of my favorites:

MMS has adopted at least 78 industry-generated standards as federal regulations, American Petroleum Institute records show.

MMS’s acquiescence stemmed from the unusual relationship it had cultivated with industry. Directed by law to “meet the nation’s energy needs,” the agency pursued that mission by declaring itself publicly and formally as industry’s partner.

An agency’s creation sets it on a path that usually cannot be easily changed.  EPA survived the Reagan years in part because of all of the strong willed environmentalists that worked in the agency.  MMS was charged from the beginning with helping the oil industry and it never stopped.  It becomes even clearer when you find out how MMS was established:

James G. Watt, the man who created MMS, came to Washington in 1982 with a mission: to alter the way the government managed its natural resources. Coming off the hostage crisis in oil-rich Iran and gas shortages on the home front, he vowed to “mine more” and “drill more.”

Nearly three decades later, the lawyer known for his sharp mind and oversized glasses says in an interview from his home in Jackson Hole, Wyo., that he “wouldn’t change one decision.”

James Watt returns to haunt us and the environment decades after we all thought we were rid of him.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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