Some diligent FOIA handiwork by the Associated Press has dug up quantitative confirmation of the ties between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation (BOEMRE) – the federal agency that regulates offshore energy development – and the companies doing the developing.
The AP obtained forms submitted by employees of BOEMRE requesting recusal from duty because of conflicts of interest or previous employment. Under policy instituted in August of last year, employees of BOEMRE are required to request such recusal from “any inspection or other official duty that relates to a designated operator, contract operator, or drilling contractor who employs a member of the district employee’s family or personal friend of the District employee[.]” Additionally, BOEMRE employees are not allowed to “perform any official duties” involving a former employer “who is a designated operator, contract operator, or drilling contractor” within two years of their last employment by that employer.
And who might these operators or contractors be, to whom BOEMRE has been romantically linked? The AP is reporting major names like Chevron, Shell and BP. Big surprise.
Also unsurprising? There’s nothing related to this story to be found on the BOEMRE website – not in their Newsroom, not on their Ethics page, and not on their FOIA page. But perhaps the sudden spotlight could prompt more transparency and stricter ethics rules going forward – a recent offshore drilling safety bill (currently stalled in the Senate) includes proposed amendments to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1355) with explicit “Conflicts of Interest” provisions.