Snap Fact #189
The Obama Administration Ordered Restructuring of Minerals Management Service to Cut Energy Company Ties to the Government!
The Obama Administration Ordered Restructuring of Minerals Management Service to Cut Energy Company Ties to the Government!On May 11, 2010, in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Mineral Management Service (MMS) would be restructured so that the safety and environmental functions are carried out by a unit with full independence from MMS in order to ensure that federal inspectors will have more tools, resources, and greater authority to enforce laws and regulations that apply to oil and gas companies operating on the Outer Continental Shelf. Another outcome of the spill was the retirement of Chris Oynes, the associate director for offshore energy and minerals management at the time of the spill. 

MMS's regulatory decisions contributing to the 2010 oil spill included, in negligence, the decision that an acoustically-controlled shut-off valve (BOP) would not be required as a last resort against underwater spills at the site, MMS's failure to suggest other “fail-safe” mechanisms after a 2004 report raised questions about the reliability of the electrical remote-control devices and the fact that MMS gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that assess threats to endangered species and to assess the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf. 
On May 19, 2010 Salazar announced that MMS will be broken up into three separate divisions, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue which will separately oversee energy leasing, safety enforcement, and revenue collection. 

The Director of the then named Minerals Management Service, S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, resigned on May 27, 2010 amidst the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On June 15, 2010 President Obama named Michael R. Bromwich, a former federal prosecutor and inspector general for the Justice Department, to head up efforts to restructure BOEMRE. Amidst efforts to reorganize the beleaguered agency, on June 21, 2010, Bromwich was sworn in as BOEMRE's new director, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a Secretarial Order that divvied up and renamed the Minerals Management Service. 

More recently BOEMRE has been further streamlined BOEM. Tomorrow’s SNAP-CAP will catch you up on what has happened since the Obama administration moved to shake up this previously dysfunctional agency.