Shell’s Revolving Door Swings U.S. Arctic Drilling Program
Oil Company Grabs Top Agency Managers to Push What They Used to Regulate
Washington, DC — Since Shell Oil Company re-entered the Arctic market in 2005, it has avidly acquired the services of an array of former Bush administration officials who previously worked in the U.S. Interior Department on that agency’s efforts to open the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas development, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
As a consequence, many of the federal managers who recently oversaw the Interior Arctic program have now crossed over to pursue the opportunities they helped craft in their public positions, including:
- Cam Toohey – former Special Assistant to the Interior Secretary for Alaska (the main official overseeing all Interior agencies in Alaska) became Shell’s Alaska Government and External Affairs Manager in January 2006;
- Paul Stang – former Alaska Minerals Management Service (MMS) Regional Supervisor for Leasing and Environment (who was MMS project manager for the very controversial Bristol Bay oil leases) was hired by Shell in early 2007 to work on its Arctic Ocean programs; and
- Tom Readinger – former Associate Director of the MMS Offshore Minerals Management Program (who had considerable influence over recent Beaufort and Chukchi Seas lease sale documents) is now doing contract work for Shell.
“In Alaska, the revolving door between regulator and regulated appears to be swinging at record speed,” state PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Key officials who were supposed to be representing the public are suddenly turning up on the other side of the table with disturbing regularity.”
While Shell is especially aggressive in Alaska, its acquisition of Bush administration figures includes –
- Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton — Norton is now general counsel for Shell’s exploration and production business in the U.S., with focus on Shell’s shale and oil sands interests in the Rockies; and
- Elizabeth Stolpe, a former Bush environment adviser, Brian Malnak, a former Interior Department advisor who was a chief of staff for then-Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) when he chaired the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Kevin O’Donovan, a former domestic policy adviser to Vice President Cheney on climate change and energy policy.
“The Bush administration is morphing into a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell,” added Ruch. “The overall impression is that public service was not a calling but a stepping stone for oil company lobbyists.”