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.
Photo: J. Stephen Conn/flickr
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