Oil Industry Leaders Set The Rules, We Just Follow Them

May 11, 2010

US (ChattahBox) – The Gulf Coast oil spill disaster has brought many things to light about the practices of offshore drilling. One of those facts is the way that the oil industry plays a big part in creating safety regulations for those practices.

According to reports, the Mineral Management Service (MMS) that is supposed to regulate these practices has significantly less of a role in creating policies than the American Petroleum Industry (API).

Of the rules that dictate the safety and regulatory policies of offshore drilling sites, more than 100 are written by API, not MMS.

They assert that this helps regulations stay in-house, and increases the industry’s bottom line.

This isn’t surprising, given the fact that the MMS is a profiting agency, which brings the second largest gross income to the Treasury Department. This is more than half of their responsibility, which creates conflict with the regulatory part of their job.

This might be changing, as focus shifts to the MMS and API to determine the full cause of the rig explosion, as well as if it could have been prevented, and what policies have to change to keep another similar disaster from occurring in the future.

With such a huge conflict of interest between creating profit and maintaining safety standards that often fall by the wayside in pursuit of the first goal, critics say the MMS should be removed from the regulations business.

“MMS is the most corrupt, inept, industry-dominated agency I have dealt with in 20 years,” said Kieran Suckling of environmental group Center for Biological Diversity commented.

“They are incapable of regulating the industry. Maybe it’s time to put them out of their misery.”

Harsh criticism, but given the environmental and economic disaster now being faced after the April 20th explosion, not unwarranted.

Lawmakers seem to agree, and with the investigation may come significant shifts in the way these policies are written and maintained.

At least we can hope. After all, how can a regulatory agency run properly when it is constantly tipping the scales between government watchdog and profit-generating-corporation? And why wasn’t something done before?

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