Gale Norton, former Secretary of Interior, takes job with Shell Oil:

During Norton’s tenure at Interior, rules pertaining to the permitting of oil and gas were eased, allowing the Bureau of Land Management to speed up the leasing process for natural gas extraction in controversial areas like the Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline in the Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming, across the state in the Powder River Basin and in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.

Another matter that may indirectly involve Norton is the fact that the Minerals Management Service which operates under Interior’s umbrella waived royalty payments assessed against private oil companies, for two years running, owed the U.S. government on federally permitted leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

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“Shell, historically one of the biggest industry players in the Gulf of Mexico, was one of five oil companies that reached an agreement with the MMS on Dec. 14 to pay royalties on the 1998 and 1999 leases,” Market Watch reports. “An MMS spokesman said lost royalties from the leases amounted to $900 million, but other reports have quoted much higher figures. A Government Accountability Office report said the MMS omission cost taxpayers $10 billion.”

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Still another lingering issue, timely in the wake of the Abramoff scandal and central to calls for ethics rules reform involving political appointees and retired civil servants, is the so-called “cooling off period” following government service and before an individual goes to work for a company that he or she previously regulated.

Some might argue she was working for them all along. It’s just that now her paycheck comes from shareholders instead of taxpayers.

(via TPM Muckraker)

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