“Can you imagine a fire department in a local community running out of money and then deciding it is only going to serve wealthy houses because it doesn’t have money to cover everybody?” Lee-Ashley, who now works as a senior strategist at the Center for American Progress, told Bloomberg. “That’s kind of what’s going on here. The oil industry is still able to get the services they want from the federal government, but nobody else does.”
Donald Trump’s administration has taken pains to keep the oil drilling industry afloat during the government shutdown over the Mexican border wall — and some analysts say they’re flouting federal law to do so.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, former Interior Department official Matt Lee-Ashley said the administration’s commitment to making sure oil drilling continues during the shutdown is both unfair and possibly illegal.
“The oil industry is still getting business as usual and everybody else is getting shut out,” the former deputy chief of staff at Interior said, “so it’s fundamentally not fair and it may be illegal too.”
Bloomberg noted that while some energy projects have been halted during the two-week-plus shutdown, Interior “is still issuing permits for oil companies to drill wells on federal land and in the Gulf of Mexico” and holding public meetings about potential pipelines in Alaska that threatens endangered wildlife.
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has used its “oil and gas management appropriations” from 2018 to keep working during the shutdown and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement “is keeping staff on the job to process new permits to drill in coastal waters,” the report noted.