The Bush-Cheney, Texas-Wyoming crowd passionately wanted to ramp up drilling logging and mountain-top mining. It had a zero-tolerance policy toward objections of any kind.
I have a personal take on the MMS. Back in 2006, I wrote a long series of stories about how the agency was losing tens of billions of dollars in royalties on oil and gas being pumped in the Gulf of Mexico. (They still are, by the way.) The MMS’s accounting was disastrously muddled; political hacks under Bush were blocking the agency’s own auditors; and the Interior Department had fouled up leases going back to the Clinton administration.
My stories unleashed a slew of investigations, which not only confirmed jaw-dropping incompetence and subservience to industry but also the famous sex-and-drugs scandal in which MMS employees in Denver partied hardy with oil execs. Now, it’s true that the Interior Department and the MMS were in some ways uniquely awful — especially under the Bush administration.