The regulatory revolving door

Much has been made of its contribution to the financial crisis, but the regulatory revolving door is alive and well in the resources sector as well:
Prosecutors are investigating whether Norton was discussing future employment with Shell before she stepped down as Interior secretary in March 2006, when she was in charge of a process that resulted in Shell winning three lucrative leases to research and develop oil shale projects on federal land in Colorado.

Nine months after resigning, Norton accepted a job in a Shell division that includes its oil shale efforts.
I'm not terribly interested in whether Norton acted improperly or not here; the bigger issue is that for all the incentive problems this revolving door creates, the alternative - an environmental regulator staffed with mediocre talent and completely lacking in any industry expertise - could be even worse. Simon Johnson, among others, has written extensively on regulatory capture in finance, but I haven't seen nearly the same degree of coverage in natural resources. I wonder if we will, given that many people have nothing to gain and a lot to lose by opening their mouths, and use of natural resources does not entail the same type of systemic risk that the financial system does (at least, not on the time-scale appreciated by politicians and voters).

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