Dept. of Interior Ignoring Ethical Violations at BLM, Secret Dealings with Energy Industry


Image: Wyoming Energy News

Shady dealings have been going on between oil & gas regulators and, well, the oil & gas industry, in the Bureau of Land Management's Casper, Wyoming office—and the Department of the Interior likely knew and just let them slip by. The Project on Government Oversight has the scoop on reports by the DOI Inspector General showing that—not surprisingly, which is perhaps the saddest part—"officials in the bureau either didn't care about what was going on in Casper or, just as damning, lacked a basic understanding of their own rules," according to the group's executive director.Read more in POGO's full letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (although it's not the first he's received about ethical violations within BLM), but here's the gist of that letter, from POGO:

James Murkin, a manager in the Casper office, failed to disclose regular meetings with industry officials, received two dinners from the owner of a company he regulated, and received $916.55 worth of patio materials from the company without having to prepay as was the usual business practice. While Murkin was receiving these benefits, he was considering whether to approve a land deal that would benefit the company.

The name of the industry official is redacted in the IG reports, but sources familiar with the investigation confirmed to POGO that it was Neil McMurry, co-founder of the McMurry oil company and McMurry Ready-Mix, and a prominent figure in Wyoming politics.

POGO is calling on BLM to adopt stricter ethics standards, ones closer to those practiced at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, for example, the agency that took over some duties of the Minerals Management Service—which if you'll recall was dismantled following its role in the BP disaster.

MMS was also essentially the equivalent of BLM for offshore regulation. Does there need to be a disaster of Deep Horizon proportions before something is done about the problems at BLM?

More on the energy industry and the government
Billions in Revenue From Oil & Gas Production Uncollected Due to Poor Government Oversight
Big Oil Launches Campaign to Protect Gov Subsidies, Uses Stock Photos AGAIN
BLM Issues New Rules for Oil Shale Development: Last Minute Bush Administration Environmental Trashing?

Tags: Economics | Energy | EPA | Oil

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