Is Dick Cheney at least partly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? According to The New Republic, going by the deterioration in the Interior Department during the Bush years, the answer could be "yes":
First, an oil-drilling procedure called cementing—which is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor—has been identified as a leading cause of well blowouts. Indeed, a 2007 study by the Minerals Management Service (or MMS, the division of the Interior Department responsible for offshore drilling) found that this procedure was implicated in 18 out of 39 blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over the 14 years it studied—more than any other factor. Cementing, which was handled by Halliburton, had just been completed prior to the recent explosion.
...Second, the oil well now spewing large quantities of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico lacked a remote-control acoustic shutoff switch used by rigs in Norway and Brazil as the last line of defense against underwater spills. There’s a story behind that. As the Wall Street Journal reports, after a spill in 2000, the MMS issued a safety notice saying that such a back-up device is “an essential component of a deepwater drilling system.” The industry pushed back in 2001, citing alleged doubts about the capacity of this type of system to provide a reliable emergency backup. By 2003, government regulators decided that the matter needed more study after commissioning a report that offered another, more honest reason: “acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly.”
...After the Bush administration took office, the MMS became a cesspool of corruption and conflicts of interest. In September 2008, Earl Devaney, Interior’s Inspector General, delivered a report to Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that has to be read to be believed. One section, headlined “A Culture of Ethical Failure,” documented the belief among numerous MMS staff that they were “exempt from the rules that govern all other employees of the Federal Government.” They adopted a “private sector approach to essentially everything they did.” This included “opting themselves out of the Ethics in Government Act.” On at least 135 occasions, they accepted gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies with whom they worked. One of the employees even had a lucrative consulting arrangement with a firm doing business with the government. And in a laconic sentence that speaks volumes, the IG reported: “When confronted by our investigators, none of the employees involved displayed remorse.”
...unfettered oil drilling was to Dick Cheney’s domestic concerns what the invasion of Iraq was to his foreign policy—a core objective, implacably pursued regardless of the risks. Is there a connection between his infamous secret energy task force and the corrupt mindset that came to dominate a key program within MMS? Would $500,000 per rig have been regarded as an unacceptably expensive insurance policy if a drill-baby-drill administration hadn’t placed its thumb so heavily on the scale?