Wyoming Oil Industry Pays Salaries of Federal Workers Who Issue Their Drilling Permits


Written by Brian Merchant

The term ‘conflict of interest’ was invented for situations like this: the Petroleum Association of Wyoming openly admits to providing money to pay the salaries of additional federal Bureau of Land Management staff members, who have been hired to help speed up the permitting process for oil and gas drilling operations.

Here’s the Wyoming Tribune:

Wyoming oil and natural gas operators, anxious to hurry up the bogged-down federal drill permit process, are forking over tens of thousands of dollars to pay for additional federal staff and overtime.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming will likely spend least $100,000 on overtime and salaries for federal and contract workers to speed approval of drilling permits, also known as APDs, at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s field office in Casper, said Bruce Hinchey, the association’s president.

The permit requests the office is fielding have more than doubled in the last two years, says Casper Field Manager Joe Meyer, and the office is short-staffed.

So, by golly, the nice men from the oil companies just decided they’d help out, and that they’d send some cash over to those poor, overworked federal regulators. That way, they can just hire some more temps and get on with the business of rubber-stamping all of their drilling proposals. More hands on deck!

Seriously, though—aren’t there supposed to be laws against this? Remember the scandals that came to light after the folks at the Minerals Management Services, who issued permits to BP for offshore drilling, were revealed to be like, entirely under the oil industry’s thumb? How slack permitting was at least partly responsible for the biggest offshore oil disaster in U.S. history?

I know what you’re thinking. That was an entirely different federal agency that was corrupted by oil money (and oil drugs and oil sex). I’m sure there will be no problems this go round with the oil industry paying the entire salaries and overtime of workers hired to regulate them. I’m sure these new workers will do a fair and unbiased job. I’m sure they will not be influenced in any way when it comes time to issue or deny a permit for the company that is providing them with their paychecks.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo: J. Stephen Conn/flickr

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Michael M.
Michael M.3 years ago

Yeah, I don't see a conflict of interest here at all! :p

Ernest R.
Ernest R.3 years ago

@ Pamela T.. ..”THE OIL INDUSTRY PAYING FOR GOVT CONTRACTORS.” Of course. The American people want smaller government. With that, private industry bravely picks up the slack. You don’t want a “nanny state”, do you?

Ernest R.
Ernest R.3 years ago

@ Pamela T.. ..”THE OIL INDUSTRY PAYING FOR GOVT CONTRACTORS.” Of course. The American people want smaller government. With that, private industry bravely picks up the slack. You don’t want a “nanny state”, do you?

Ernest R.
Ernest R.3 years ago

@ Tom S.. “Vote out every last looser, clean the slate, time for new blood in every state.” I guess you mean loser. Don’t you remember? We just did that a couple of years ago. It‘s the new blood that is doing this. Do you ever watch the news ? A political candidate needs to toe the line in his party, and he needs millions to run for office. Guess where he has to go to get it ? @ dale r..:” When industry owns government, we have state capitalism. The other word for state capitalism is fascism” How can that be ? So many posts remind us that our young heroes are giving their lives to protect our freedom. Maybe there are just not enough wars to protect us, and we will have to kill a lot more people to save our democracy.

Edo F.
Edo F.3 years ago

The "Big" companies and corporations are the new church institution. It used to be the church controlled and ruled simultaneously with the governments, now big oil, big pharma etc. are the controlling powers at work. The well being of people should come first.

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V.3 years ago

Let's take a vote : )
How many of you are surprised by this?

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom3 years ago

Facts like these show how corrupt Petro States really are!

June Lacy
June Lacy3 years ago


Pogle S.
Pogle S.3 years ago

This is the epitome of legalised corruption! Stamp it out now all you good Americans!

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance3 years ago

What in tarnation is happening to good sense. What happens if a permit is not allowed? Is there a bunch of back and forth by the good old boys? Does the employee lose his job because the company didn't get what they were clearly paying for --- permits?

A fair and equitable process has to be seen as fair and equitable in order to be so. This is clearly a case of conflict of interest. Nothing fair and equitable. So greed trumps all! Crap!