Justice Department: A Wholly Owned Subsidiary Of Big Oil

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DRILL, Baby, DRILL.

Senior Justice Department officials blocked the U.S. attorney in Colorado from supporting a whistleblower's suit last year, jeopardizing the government's prospects for recovering as much as $40 million from a major oil company for its alleged underpayment of royalties.

U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said Washington overruled his request to enter the case against the Kerr-McGee Corp. A lawyer for the whistleblower said he was told that decision was made 'at the highest levels' of the Justice Department, then run by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

'I recommended strongly that we intervene,' Eid said. 'My view did not prevail.'

Moreover, McClatchy found that the Justice Department has participated in only a handful of the 80-whistleblower cases brought against the oil industry since 1995.

Whistleblower suits are generally less successful without the Justice Department's intervention, and if a whistleblower prevails on his own, taxpayers get a smaller share of the damages.