March 22, 2018

Environmental Safety Bureau Chief Took Political Contributions From Industry He Now Regulates

BSEE Director Scott Angelle Now Regulates the Oil and Gas Companies That Showered Him With Campaign Contributions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Many of the companies penalized by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) over the past five years have given political contributions to current BSEE Director Scott Angelle, and at least five of those companies have met with him since he took office in May 2017, according to a new report by Public Citizen.

Prior to taking the helm at the BSEE, which was set up by the Obama administration in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, Angelle worked in Louisiana politics. During his campaign for the 3rd Congressional District, Angelle’s top contributing industry was oil and gas, which donated $151,000 to his run for office. Public Citizen’s analysis, titled “Regulating the Hands That Fed Him,” found that at least nine companies or associated executives that have paid BSEE a civil penalty over the past five years also have contributed to one of Angelle’s campaigns.

These nine companies or individuals have contributed $142,750 directly to Angelle’s campaigns in the past, Public Citizen found. And at least five of them already have met with Angelle as BSEE director. Arena Energy, which contributed $15,000 to Angelle’s previous campaigns, met with him for an hour on June 6, 2017. Arena Energy also has the most civil penalties over the five-year period. A Chevron executive also met with Angelle for two hours on August 25, 2017. Chevron paid more than $840,000 in BSEE penalties and contributed $14,000 to Angelle’s campaigns.

Under Angelle, the BSEE plans to roll back or amend many Obama-era offshore drilling safety regulations, including loosening requirements on streaming real-time safety data to the shore and removing a provision that requires third-party inspection of safety devices. In September 2017, Angelle told a group of oil and gas executives that “help is on the way, help is on the way.”

“As BSEE director, Angelle must prioritize safety over oil and gas company profits,” said Michael Tanglis, senior researcher for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “His assurance to oil executives – the same people who contributed large amounts of money to his political campaigns – that ‘help is on the way,’ is less than reassuring.”

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