American Elephants

Here’s Another Reason for High Gas Prices at the Pump! by The Elephant's Child

Here is a wonderful example of the way government agencies work.  The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service was a sub-agency ripe for a lot of finger-pointing after the Deepwater-Horizon Oil Spill, because there was a lot of checking-up that had not been done. Blame was about to descend. Voilá, the Minerals Management Service disappeared, and was replaced by the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Michael Bromwich, Director of the new agency, which is responsible for the drilling permit logjam in the Gulf of Mexico, has said that his agency is too understaffed to address the slowdown in permits.  No time, too much work , too little staff.  But Director Michael Bromwich insists that he now plans to divert his limited staff resources to the additional regulation of oilfield service providers and other contractors as well. At an Offshore Technology Conference in Houston Bromwich announced:

We have completed our review of the issue and have concluded that in fact we have broad legal authority over all activities relating to offshore leases.

We have barely 60 inspectors to cover 3,000-plus facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.  If it weren’t so troubling, it would be laughable.

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is not amused, nor sympathetic.  He pointed out the hypocrisy in a letter to Bromwich. “Expanding the reach of your agency while simultaneously claiming you are “understaffed” is nothing short of confusing.” He asked the agency director to identify what staff he intends to direct away from their current responsibilities. (He would be astonished to get a response).

Vitter has placed a hold on a key Interior Department nominee until the agency issues at least 15 deepwater permits.  Since February, when Vitter placed the hold, BOEMRE has issued 12 permits.  Before that, it was zero.  Muscle matters.

Federal Judge Martin Feldman ordered Bromwich’s regulators to act on six pending drilling applications by Ensco Offshore who has filed a case against the government.

Whine, delay, fail to respond, claim overwork, claim understaffing, and grab for more power and more authority. Unfortunately, this is the way things work in our nation’s capitol. And why our oil production is expected to drop by a third this year. Go figure!

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