Federal records show the Minerals Management Service (MMS) allowed a well dug by the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded last month, killing 11 workers and causing thousands of barrels of oil a day since to spew into the ocean, the Times reports.
Under the Endangered Species Act, companies are required to show the MMS permits to drill, obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
According to the Times, the MMS also frequently overruled its staff of scientists and engineers who expressed concerns about drilling. The scientists tell the Times they were pressured to change reports that drilling could harm wildlife.
"You simply are not allowed to conclude that the drilling will have an impact," one scientist who has worked for the minerals agency for more than a decade, told the Times. "If you find the risks of a spill are high or you conclude that a certain species will be affected, your report gets disappeared in a desk drawer and they find another scientist to redo it or they rewrite it for you."
On Thursday, the chairman of a subcommittee delving into what happened at BP's blown-out oil well said he wants to talk with the MMS.
Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, told CBS' "The Early Show" he wants to know why the Minerals Management Service gave permits to BP and the companies involved in various aspects of the well and rig.
Stupak said that once permits to drill are issued, the federal government's role is to make sure the companies are drilling properly, to protect the environment. But investigators found evidence of equipment failures in aspects of the well's safety that weren't monitored.
Watch the full interview with Rep. Bart Stupak: