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WASHINGTON - An e-mail offered a wonderful opportunity for the Interior Department's 70,000 employees.
"The Secretary's Alaska Field Office and the Alaska offices of MMS (Minerals Management Service) and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) have purchased a bulk subscription to the electronic version of Petroleum News for all Interior employees," said the note Friday from Camden Toohey, a special assistant to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, based in Anchorage.
"Petroleum News is a weekly newspaper based in Anchorage that covers the oil and gas industry in North America," Toohey explained. "The newspaper gives special emphasis to oil and companies investing the most money in the United States and Canada, as well as the efforts of local, state/province and federal governments to attract oil and gas investment.
"You can activate your subscription at no cost to you" online, Toohey advised, signing in and using your government e-mail address and passwords. "You will automatically begin receiving Petroleum News every Friday; you can discontinue at any time if you decide you're not interested, of course."
Of course, it's probably not a good idea if someone finds out you're not interested.
But then, two minutes later, a second e-mail came flying in from the tech people at Interior.
"Subject: ALL EMPLOYEE MESSAGE Nationwide - Correction: The Petroleum News Subscription has been cancelled."
"Correction," the e-mail began. "Please disregard this message," meaning the first e-mail. "This message should not had went out to all employees." (sic)
Not speak we much English, just networking computer stuff we do.
What happened to the free Petroleum News?
To explain, Interior spokeswoman Tina Kreisher began with Pink Floyd's album, "A Momentary Lapse of Reason," which she said was "followed by a momentary lapse of good English."
"This was a good idea. It is a valuable publication, a newspaper that covers the industry," Kreisher said, noting that a third of the oil and gas produced in the United States is "produced on Interior lands, particularly in Alaska. People need to stay on top of this." But the publication, on paper, costs $50 a year, she said, and Interior folks in Alaska "found they were buying 20 or so of these." For $295 a year, they found, they could get an unlimited number of subscriptions online.
"But it didn't need to go to all 70,000 Interior employees," she said, and the idea will be to limit it "really just to people who need the information."