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Gulf oil spill: Break-up of Minerals Management Service yields 'memorabilia'

July 1, 2010 |  6:02 am

MMS Whale

When the Obama administration renamed the Minerals Management Service in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, who would have thought it would spawn a governmental garage sale? While the newly formed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement fiddles over its abbreviation, the public can snap up souvenirs from the former group's less-savory past.

It's all thanks to a nonprofit agency called the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The group, whose slogan is "protecting employees who protect our environment," is auctioning off various trinkets from the days when MMS oversaw oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf. 

According to PEER's website: “The break-up for the Minerals Management Service left us feeling a little empty. To commemorate the life (and timely death) of this agency – PEER has acquired a few items that we are offering to you, if your price is right (just like the MMS!).”

Employees donated the goods, which include an oil-drop paperweight ($125) and a bottle of hand sanitizer complete with an antimicrobial telephone pad ($50).

But you're too late to snap up a 25th anniversary pin, which is described as a “reminder of the agency glory days, before sex, drugs, Sugar Bowl tickets, massive royalty give-aways, and yes, that thing in the Gulf, when Dick Cheney and Haliburton ruled the earth.”

There was also a 4-inch-long whale, referred to as “Petey the Petroleum Loving Whale,” which PEER promised would be a “huge hit with your special mammal.” (Also sold.)

Kate Hornyan, the membership and outreach coordinator for PEER, said coming up with the descriptions of MMS trinkets was a team effort. “We thought some of the ideas were funny,” she said.

PEER director Jeff Ruch even wrote the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, asking that the agency donate "pen sets, coffee cups, windbreakers, etc." All proceeds go to PEER. 

"To the extent that you are having trouble deciding what to do with the piles of MMS mementos, please consider letting PEER take them off your hands," Ruch wrote in the letter.

Bidding began Wednesday morning and closes July 7 at 9 a.m.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: "Petey the Petroleum Loving Whale" was auctioned off Wednesday. Credit: