For more than two decades, Bobby Maxwell supervised Minerals Management Service (MMS), a division of the Interior Department and the primary federal agency overseeing safety inspections in the more than 3,500 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Speaking to CNN, he described the agency’s relationship with oil companies as “a culture of corruption… hunting trips, fishing trips, drug use.” He described the inspections process as nothing more than a formality — “a checklist they would run through quickly, check things off, say things like ‘Hi, Joe. Hi, John. See you at this weekend’s fishing tournament.’ ” Maxwell told CNN’s Abbie Boudreau that no one is asking the hard but appropriate questions about MMS’s inspections process on BP’s failed oil rig:
“What types of inspections? Who did them? Did they give them any waivers? Was the equipment adequate? Did they think they needed a second blowout preventer? Did they demand BP put it in? MMS is responsible for that, too,” said Maxwell.
The long-term environmental effects of the BP disaster are impossible to guage at this point, but watchdog groups on the ground on the coast and in the air over the marshes believe that sludge has already reached much further into the fragile marine and estuarine environments than BP is willing to admit: