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U.S. agency overseeing oil drilling ignored warnings of risks

U.S. agency overseeing oil drilling ignored warnings of risks 24 May 2010 The federal agency responsible for regulating offshore oil drilling repeatedly ignored warnings from government scientists about environmental risks in its push to approve energy exploration activities quickly, according to numerous documents and interviews. Minerals Management Service officials, who receive cash bonuses for meeting federal deadlines on leasing offshore oil and gas exploration, frequently altered their own documents and bypassed legal requirements aimed at ensuring drilling does not imperil the marine environment, the documents show. This has dramatically weakened the scientific checks on offshore drilling that were established under landmark laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, according to those who have worked with MMS, which is part of the Interior Department.