A senator investigating oil theft on Indian land criticized the Bureau of Land Management for neglecting native American oil rights after one official said he didn't notify the FBI about theft because he couldn't find the telephone number.
Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., who chairs a special investigating committee of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, blasted the agency Wednesday for what he called "benign neglect."It's "unbelievable," he said. "An `I don't care' attitude. An `I don't give a damn' attitude. I hope someone loses their job."
DeConcini's comments came after a day of testimony by BLM officials about their work in Oklahoma.
He became particularly angry during the hearing when Bob Goodman, supervisor for inspection and enforcement technicians of the BLM in Tulsa, said he didn't call the FBI about theft in the oil fields because he couldn't find the phone number.
DeConcini waved a telephone book over his head.
"You couldn't find the phone number?" he bellowed. "I'll show you where the phone number is. It's right in the front of the book."
DeConcini turned to George Brown, deputy assistant director of energy and mineral resources with the BLM in Washington.
"Do you think Mr. Goodman, who can't find the FBI phone number, is meeting his responsibility?" the senator asked.
When Brown said he thought the agency's inspection force was fulfilling its charge to the Indians, DeConcini raised his voice even further.
"That's no more meeting the responsibility than I'm an astronaut, and I'm not an astronaut," he shouted.
Goodman tried again.
"I talked to the FBI in 1984 and got no response," he said, saying he left his name and number with the FBI but didn't get a call back and then never tried to reach the agency again.
Brown said he thought Goodman had made a satisfactory attempt.
The testimony Wednesday concentrated on Oklahoma, although the committee's probe extends to all states where Indians have wells.
Earlier, Jim Sims, district manager of the BLM in Tulsa, told investigators for the committee that anyone who wanted to steal oil could do it because of the remoteness of wells on Indian lands.
Dale Tunnell, special agent with the BLM in Santa Fe, N.M., said the problem was further complicated by confusion over who could make arrests when stealing is discovered.