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Updated on June 9, 2010

Randall Luthi New head of offshore Industry Group

For years it has been common for people to progress from working at the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service to private companies which they used to regulate. It is a cozy way of receiving first rate training in how to beat the system - work for the regulator for a few years with good pay and those great government benefits and then jump to the private side with all that priceless knowledge. In fact, a good way to start in the private sector fairly high up the ladder is to be overtly helpful to one or two particular companies as they apply for, say, offshore drilling permits or timber leases on public lands. By showing good grace and a helpful attituide one can enhance chances of landing a really good job with.......perhaps even one of those very companies.


This unofficial traing/recruiting system has operated successfully since the Reagan administration formed MMS in 1982. Oh sure, the nay-sayers in Congress and private watchdog groups have griped about it, but then jealousy is everywhere. Some people thrive on negativity. And besides, have there been any serious environmental problems under the guidance of MMS? Vast oil spills with no oil spill response plan in place?

There have been constant claims that MMS is more likely an arm of the industries it is supposed to regulate than an actual government agency. But, do we place too much emphasis on the need for objectivity in our federal regulatory agencies? Does every energy project application have to be reviewed at arm's length? Surely the industry being regulated has the best experts already at work protecting our environment and economy.

Now we see once agian that MMS employees, even very high ranking ones, do have a meaningful future after the cruel reality of a change in White House administrations costs them their jobs. On March 1 of this year Randal B. Luthi, the director of MMS from 2007 through 2009 assumed the position of president of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA). This is an industry group of more than 250 companies enegaged largely in offshore energy projects. Cape Wind Associates, LLC is a member. Probably just a coincidence.

Prior to heading MMS Luthi had been the deputy head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where the science submitted to MMS about Cape Wind's potential impacts on wildlife was changed and the career of the man who wrote the original comments was destroyed. Indeed, Randall Luthi appears to be the just the man for this very important new job. His experience at MMS will doubtless be of great assistance as NOIA's members strive to cut red tape and receive permits for offshore energy projects such as oil and gas drilling and large wind farms.

Copyright 2010 By Peter A. Kenney


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