Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Ethics policy to stop revolving door for industry and regulators of offshore drilling

The first ethics policy for the agency that oversees offshore oil and gas drilling will require employees to report potential conflicts of interest. The policy implemented by the Obama Administration will also require Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement employees "to recuse themselves from inspecting companies that employ family members or close friends," Katie Howell of Environment & Energy Daily. "Newly hired inspectors are also barred from performing inspections or working with their former employers for two years after leaving the industry."

The new policy comes in the wake of the increased scrutiny placed on the agency following the Gulf of Mexico oil blowout. Mary Kendall, the Interior Department's acting inspector general, told Howell she was most concerned with the revolving door between industry and agency officials. "Inspectors and oil company employees have lived in the same communities all their lives and attended the same engineering schools, Kendall said, adding that their relationships took precedence over their jobs," Howell writes.Liz Birnbaum, the former Minerals Management Service head, told the presidential commission investigating the spill, "The inspectors who accepted gifts had extensive social and community relations; they all live in the same towns. Offshore inspectors have to live along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, which are dominated by two industries: oil and gas and shrimping." (Read more, subscription required)

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