Oil execs. on Capitol Hill. Obama will split govt agency to end ‘too cozy’ relationship with industry

This morning, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the panel consists of oil industry executives, via the Committees website:

Mr. Lamar McKay – President and Chairman , BP America, Inc.
Mr. Steven Newman – President and Chief Executive Officer, Transocean Limited
Mr. Tim Probert – President, Global Business Lines; Chief Health, Safety and Environmental Officer, Halliburton

Yes, that Halliburton. Of course, there’s a Halliburton connection. MSNBC is livestreaming the hearing as is the Committee. Many of the members of this Committee are pretty much wholly-owned subsidiaries of the oil industry.

The Obama administration is also taking action. Earlier this year, Team Obama was sidling up to the oil industry with its new-found support for offshore drilling. Bad move by some political genius at the White House. Seems like the administration has been looking for ways to show that it is actually tough on the industry, hence this move:

President Obama is proposing to split the agency that oversees offshore oil drilling into two parts, one to inspect oil rigs and enforce safety, the other to oversee leases for drilling and collect royalties, the White House said Tuesday.

The proposal, in response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, will be formally unveiled at 1 p.m. by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, officials said. Mr. Salazar’s decision to split the current Minerals Management Service is occurring after the agency has come under criticism for being too cozy with the industry because it engages in financial dealings with the companies — collecting royalties and negotiating leases — while also acting as a policeman, in its role overseeing safety investigations.

The proposal reflects the shift in attitude by the Obama White House in the weeks since the Gulf spill. In March, the president called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic ocean from Delaware to central Florida, as he sought to lay the groundwork for comprehensive energy legislation, which has since stalled in the Senate.

Many of us expected this kind of action from the Obama administration in the first place. But, the political geniuses at the White House decided to support offshore drilling.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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