According to The New York Times, the Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with a 2007 Minerals Management Service report that declared the risks posed by an oil spill insignificant. Although it agreed with the Minerals Management Service’s characterization of the risks as “low,” the Fish and Wildlife Service did make some minor suggestions that went largely ignored.
This story highlights what seems to be a trend not just among environmental regulators, but elsewhere in government as well: namely, a profound lack of accountability. The Fish and Wildlife Service, tasked (among other duties) with overseeing the protection of endangered species, ignored scientific findings that an oil spill could severely disrupt and harm the habitats of many plants and animals. The agency appears to have decided that ignoring the potential for disaster would be easier than confronting it.
We of course are upset (although unfortunately no longer surprised) by this behavior. The government has failed to effectively regulate for a long time. The House of Representatives just passed a compromise bill that promises to improve regulation of the financial industry; the Senate will vote on it in coming weeks. When will regulation of oil companies be seriously addressed?