"July 20 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration continued a decade-long pattern of lax U.S. regulation of offshore oil and natural gas drilling that led to BP Plc’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico, lawmakers investigating the spill said.
Regulators during George W. Bush’s presidency failed to protect safety and the environment, and actions by President Barack Obama’s Interior Department have been “more cosmetic than substantive,” Representative Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, said today at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.
Decisions dating to the start of President Bush’s administration played a role in the BP spill, the worst in U.S. history, Stupak said. The Interior Department agency responsible for oversight of drilling failed to keep pace with increases in offshore exploration, he said.
“There has been a pervasive failure by the regulators to take the actions necessary to protect safety and the environment,” Stupak said. “These failures to regulate happened at the time federal officials offered oil and gas companies new incentives to drill in deeper and riskier waters in the Gulf of Mexico.”
While Obama’s Interior secretary, Ken Salazar, canceled a royalty-in-kind program faulted by a government watchdog, adopted ethics rules and sought more inspectors for offshore facilities, “there is little evidence that these reforms changed the laissez-faire approach” by the Minerals Management Service “in regulating the BP well,” said Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat."