McClatchy gets the story: Since the BP oil leak began on April 20, the Federal government has granted 22 waivers to oil companies allowing them to avoid doing environmental impact studies on their further drilling plans in the Mexican Gulf.
The Department of the Interior’s “Minerals Management Service” has a history of ignoring environmental law. In Congress you have the phenomenon of “legislative capture,” where the corporations get to write the legislation affecting them because they give money to the legislators’ campaigns. But there is also such a thing as “administrative capture,” which is more indirect but has a similar set of motives. Sometimes government regulators actually come out of the corporations they oversee. Or government employees leave the government for lucrative corporate employment and keep their old circle of friends inside. The military-industrial complex and Pentagon contracting depend heavily on such networks.
In the case of MMS employees and Big Oil, some of them have literally been in bed together. I mean, “reform” of this agency involved explicitly stating that the employees couldn’t openly take money from the corporations they oversee!