Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced major actions in response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Interior will restructure the U.S. Minerals Management Service by establishing “a separate and independent safety and environmental enforcement entity” within the agency, Interior said. MMS, the agency with jurisdiction over outer continental shelf oil and gas development, manages OCS lease sales, collects OCS oil and gas revenues, and issues permits for offshore activities, as well as performing a role in enforcing laws and government regulations.
“The job of ensuring energy companies are following the law and protecting the safety of their workers and the environment is a big one, and should be independent from other missions of the agency,” Salazar said. “We will responsibly and thoughtfully move to establish independence and separation for this critical mission, so that the American people know they have a strong and independent organization holding energy companies accountable and in compliance with the law of the land.”
In addition, the Obama administration is going to ask Congress for additional funding for activities such as inspections and law enforcement for oil and gas operations.
The administration is requesting the National Academy of Engineering to conduct an independent investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon incident.
And oil spill legislation that the administration is submitting to Congress will now include a proposal to extend the 30-day deadline for MMS approval of oil and gas exploration plans to 90 days, Interior said.
Editor’s note: See story in May 16 issue of Petroleum News, available online to subscribers on Friday, May 14 at www.PetroleumNews.com