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Obama smacks Minerals Management Service

By Ed O'Keefe

It's not a good day to be an employee of the Minerals Management Service: In a somewhat angry appearance from the White House Rose Garden, President Obama said the agency is partly responsible for systemic breakdowns surrounding the April BP oil spill.

"There's enough responsibility to go around" for the BP oil spill, Obama said. "That includes, by the way, the federal government."

"For too long, for a decade or more, there's been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill," Obama said, referring to MMS. "It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies.

"That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust, but we will verify," Obama said.

He noted that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has launched a top-to-bottom review of the agency and has been on its case "from the day he took office." Indeed Salazar showed up in the White House briefing room Jan. 28, 2009, to announce that he was asking the Justice Department to investigate allegations that staffers accepted gifts from oil and gas industry representatives, and sexual misconduct between MMS employees and industry representatives.

Obama saved his harshest words for BP, but it's notable that he singled out a federal entity. Can anyone remember the last time a president so publicly smacked a federal agency and used it as a scapegoat?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 14, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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Comments

Well, it's good he called them out but he should have included himself since he is the top of the federal govt food chain and they report to him, even if he had no knowledge as to how MMS was handing out the permits.

Posted by: Krazijoe | May 14, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so easy to scare and fool republican voters?

Posted by: beenthere3 | May 14, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Can anyone remember the last time a president so publicly smacked a federal agency and used it as a scapegoat?"

Scapegoat? Are you suggesting MMS has been falsely accused?

Posted by: HuckFinn | May 14, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

For much of its 161-year history the U.S. Department of the Interior might more accurately have been named the Department of Corruption. That took root with mismanagement of Indian lands and funds. Indian Commissioner Ezra Hayt was dismissed in 1880 after newspapers reported massive looting of money allocated for western Indian tribes. The greatest scandal was probably the 1921 Teapot Dome oil lease, for which Secretary Albert B. Fall served a year in jail, convicted of bribery.

At his Senate confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary, then-Sen. Ken Salazar (D,CO) promised to "clean up the mess," as reported by Michael Falcone [Interior Department nominee pledges reform, NY Times, January 16, 2009, at www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/us/politics/16salazar.html]. Since "the mess" is a Washington legend, he did not need to explain. Sen. Ron Wyden (D,OR) warned about "very heavy lifting ahead."

Posted by: AppDev | May 14, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

KRAZIEJOE, You cannot hold Obama for what was wrong with the agaency before he was elected. However, we will surely hold him accountable from this point forward.

Posted by: Kevin_J_Jenkins | May 14, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Is the Federal government doing ANYTHING???

How does Obama get a free pass on every issue?

Can the next administration blame him for what happens on their watch, or will we just blame Bush in perpetuity?

Posted by: Benson | May 14, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

If Obama is serious about cleaning up MMS, he should start by immediately dismissing the political appointees his administration placed in the MMS and who serve at his pleasure. That MIGHT put the fear of God into the rest of them, but I doubt that Obama has the cojones to take such action.

That’s not to say that many of the Feds in MMS shouldn’t be fired, demoted or reassigned, but that is harder for Obama to do.

Posted by: cullisongs | May 14, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Notice how Obama won't tolerate finger pointing, but immediately tried to shift blame to a previous administration, even though he has been in charge for 16 months?

Posted by: Benson | May 14, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama is dead on correct. Somehow, it isn't surprising that Republicans come to the Oil Companies defense.

We need to be MORE STRICT and MORE CAREFUL about who is drilling.

The Gulf Coast is paying dearly for our own incompetence with safty

Posted by: Bious | May 14, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

It's the media that lets Obama off the hook...did the same for Clinton...will do the same for any Democrat...

But on the other hand, there is very little Obama or anyone else could have done after the fact...and all we can hope for in the future is an effective contingency plan should there be another mishaps...

And at any rate, he and Holder have much to do to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, aka car bombs, from the US, Iraq, and Afghanistan...lol

Posted by: Everwatchful | May 17, 2010 6:14 AM | Report abuse

Uh oh! That is not a good sign. Someone will be out of a job soon.

Posted by: AmyReeder1 | May 17, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone remember the last time a president so publicly smacked a federal agency and used it as a scapegoat?


I don't feel this was a scapegoat. I feel it was the truth. And this time America has a Pres: who is not afraid to speak the truth. He is not a oil man and has no interest in that: to sooth, or take, or give special previleges.

Posted by: jadeislandgirl | May 17, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I do not understand why no one is asking about the Environmental Protection Agency. In years past, a company could not begin construction of something this big without submitting an Environment Impact Statement to the Environmental Protection Agency. Did EPA just pass on this? I have heard that MMS did not require an Environmental Impact Statement before approving the project, but I thought that was EPA's responsibility. Can someone clarify the role of the EPA in approving maritime construction projects for me? Thanks!

Posted by: DevinSally | May 17, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

The scandels at MMS were at the forefront of the news in 2008. Obama and Co. were going to implement changes in the wake these reports. Are these the changes? What the heck happen.
The latest is they are going to implement changes in the wake of this accident.

Posted by: pw1960 | May 18, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The MMS scandel was at the forefront of news reports back in 2008. They were going to implement changes in the wake of these reports. Are these the changes? What the heck happen. The latest reports I read are the are going to implement changes at MMS in the wake of this accident.

Posted by: pw1960 | May 18, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The MMS scandel was at the forefront of news reports back in 2008. They were going to implement changes in the wake of these reports. Are these the changes? What the heck happen. The latest reports I read are the are going to implement changes at MMS in the wake of this accident.

Posted by: pw1960 | May 18, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The MMS scandel was forefront news in 2008. Obama and Co. promised to make changes in the wake of the scandel. Is this the change? What Happened? Anyway, news is, Obama and Co. are promising change in the wake of the accident.Also I see where nobody was fired. A couple guys are retiring with I'm sure some healthy pensions. Probably SEIU members.(Can't fire union guys)

Posted by: pw1960 | May 18, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The MMS scandel was forefront news in 2008. Obama and Co. promised to make changes in the wake of the scandel. Is this the change? What Happened? Anyway, news is, Obama and Co. are promising change in the wake of the accident.Also I see where nobody was fired. A couple guys are retiring with I'm sure some healthy pensions. Probably SEIU members.(Can't fire union guys)

Posted by: pw1960 | May 18, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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