PNS Daily Newscast - July 3, 2020 

Economists say coronavirus disaster declarations may be the quickest path to reopening; militia groups use virus, Independence Day to recruit followers.

2020Talks - July 3, 2020 

Trump visits South Dakota's Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore today; nearby tribal leaders object, citing concerns over COVID-19 and a fireworks display. Plus, voter registration numbers are down from this time in 2016.

Price of Drilling Escalates: Sex, Drugs and Oceanfront?

September 12, 2008

Congress is hotly debating an energy bill that would open up nearly 4 million acres for offshore drilling. That debate now comes against the backdrop of a tawdry scandal involving oil and gas company executives and some employees of the federal agency that issues offshore drilling leases as well as collects royalties.

Gulf Coast Restoration Network director Joe Murphy sees the suspected wrongdoing as proof that recent policies have not proved to be in the public interest.

"They have given away our public lands right and left; they have weakened regulations at every turn; they've done everything they can to make sure their buddies in the oil industry got the biggest possible pay-day."

Lenne Ball runs the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Petersburg Beach. Observing that many Floridians are employed in the tourism industry, she warns that just one offshore oil spill could put those people out of work.

"It’s not like we are the only ones selling a wonderful beach destination. We really need to take care of it."

The director of the Minerals Management Service, Denver, said the agency was taking the internal investigation "extremely seriously." A local advocacy group, ProgressNow, is digging deeper, requesting records under the Freedom of Information Act for activity involving former Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer as well as Aspect, the company he worked for after leaving Congress, which figures in the report. The Republican is currently running for U.S. Senate.

The two-year investigation at the Department of Interior found a "culture of ethical failure" by 13 employees who the report claims were involved in sexual relationships with and accepted gifts from oil company employees. The 13 also are accused of steering lucrative federal contracts to friends.

Proponents say the proposed energy legislation would make America less dependent on foreign oil, but opponents say it would do more harm than good.

Gina Presson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - FL