Thursday, October 14, 2010

Abbey rejects calls for ethics probe of N.M. field office

Scott Streater, E&E reporter


..."In a one-page letter delivered to environmental groups last week, BLM Director Bob Abbey said the matter, which was investigated by the Interior inspector general's office and reviewed by the Justice Department, is closed."...

..."Henke, a 34-year agency veteran, retired from BLM in May and began his position with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association on Aug. 1.

But just as Abbey sought to end the fracas over Henke, the Washington, D.C.-based Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group, released a letter citing Henke's misconduct and criticizing BLM for soft-peddling its response to his actions, which he admitted to his superior, BLM New Mexico State Director Linda Rundell last April."...

..."POGO argued in the five-page letter to Abbey and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that the department effectively ignored credible allegations against Henke, and that "BLM's senior management did not appropriately respond" to a June inspector general's reportthat, among other things, found that Henke "took gifts from Williams Exploration and Production, a prohibited source, in the form of golf [tournament] tickets, lodging and meals" (Land Letter, Sept. 16).

Williams E&P is one of the nation's largest natural gas firms, with extensive drilling operations in New Mexico's San Juan Basin, where the Farmington Field Office has jurisdiction.

Brian asked Salazar and Abbey to request a second IG investigation to determine whether "other BLM Farmington office employees have inappropriate relationships with companies or associations with a stake in BLM's operations" that has resulted in a conflict of interest."

Related post:

Report: Former BLM manager took oil company gifts

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