Inspector General under investigation in drilling ban

Lawmakers are investigating whether a top government investigator was involved in producing a report that erroneously suggested certain scientists approved a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The moratorium cost thousands of jobs throughout the region and created a decline in energy production. Seven members of the National Academy of Engineers later rebuffed the action.

The target of the probe, Mary Kendall, the Interior Department’s acting inspector general (IG), told a House oversight panel in 2010 she was not investigating the error because it was the subject of a lawsuit.

“I was not involved in the process of developing that report, and I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it,??? Kendall told lawmakers.

The IG later revealed that the White House was involved in editing that specific language but blamed it on a drafting error.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, says newly obtained documents show Kendall actually played a role in developing the report and that she participated in key meetings.

“This apparent involvement also raises new questions about the acting IG’s independence and impartiality in conducting the investigation of the drilling moratorium report, whether it was appropriate for her to oversee this investigation in the first place, and whether she should have disclosed her involvement and recused herself from all matters concerning the investigation,??? Hastings said.

Kendall told USA Today she attended the meetings but only as “an active listener.???

“I was not an active participant in these meetings,??? Kendall said.

Schedules show Kendall was a “required invitee??? to meetings discussing the peer reviews, and in emails she described that work as “enormously impressive.???