• Lauren Bloom is an interfaith minister and attorney who focuses on professional and personal integrity. Her career has been devoted to helping business professionals earn and maintain the trust of their clients, cutomers, colleagues and associates. An internationally-recognized expert on business and professional ethics, Lauren has appeared as a keynote speaker across North America and in Europe.

    Lauren lives in Springfield, Virginia outside of Washington, D.C.

  • Did regulatory corruption lead to environmental tragedy?

    Posted on by smartauthorsites

    On September 12, 2008, when the outcome of the Presidential election was still very much in doubt, I wrote a post asking whether the new President would interact ethically with the powerful oil and gas industry. It gave me chills to realize today that my 2008 post cited a report from the Inspector General’s Office criticizing a branch of the Department of the Interior for operating in a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” that allegedly involved accepting gifts from oil industry representatives, having sex with energy industry employees, and rigging contracts to favored firms. That branch of Interior was the Minerals Management Service … the government agency responsible for overseeing offshore drilling.

    Today, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., President of the Waterkeeper Alliance, reports in The Huffington Post that, in 2003, the Minerals Management Service opposed a proposed requirement for acoustic switches on offshore oil rigs that might have prevented the oil spill currently fouling the Gulf of Mexico. The alleged reason for the agency’s recommendation was that those switches “tend to be very costly.” Kennedy further states that, in 2005, the Bush Administration’s energy bill officially dropped the requirement for acoustic switch-off devices on offshore rigs because the oil industry’s drilling practices were allegedly “failsafe” without them. Somebody clearly got that wrong.

    I work hard to keep this blog non-partisan because I believe there are decent, ethical people at every point in the political spectrum, and business ethics shouldn’t belong to any political affiliation. But I also think it’s essential to point out that regulators of any party tend to do a lousy job when they’re in bed figuratively and, in this case, perhaps literally, with the industries they’re supposed to oversee. Kennedy’s allegations are serious and, if true, deserve wider consideration. In the hope that a broader airing of the past will lead to better practices in the future, I’d encourage you to check out Kennedy’s article here.

    This entry was posted in business communications, Business Ethics, corporate responsibility, ethics, Lauren Recommends, Presidential Campaign, Social Ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

    2 Responses to Did regulatory corruption lead to environmental tragedy?

    1. Lauren,

      Obviously, claims about industry drilling rigs being failsafe have been proven to be false, and the ministry’s opposition has turned out to be foolhardy, with great social, environmental and economic cost.

      Whilst the need for government ministries to develop constructive working relationships with industry must be acknowledged, it is the responsibility of each ministry and the individual staff employed within these industries to ensure that their capacity to act at arms length is not compromised nor seen to be compromised.

    2. Nancy Reece says:

      You can and should lay blame at the feet of the government agency which failed to protect our environment. But I would also lay blame at the feet of companies who make a choice to put profits before quality and safety. We’ve seen the same thing happen with Toyota as they put being number one in the market ahead of quality and paid the price. Let’s challenge oil companies to put safety and quality first – without being required to do so by government.

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    • “This splendid little book not only contains much of practical value (I was personally helped by it), it will encourage the development of such virtues as honesty and humility and that is no small gift.”

      --Rabbi Harold Kushner, author,
      When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

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