BP Gulf oil spill: Congress zeroes in on federal oversight
Was the government adequately monitoring the drilling by the Deepwater Horizon? Is the government too cozy with the industry it's regulating? Lawmakers of both parties want answers following the Gulf oil spill.
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One section would just collect money, which has been averaging about $13 billion a year, mostly in royalty payments or fees for leases.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Louisiana oil spill
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The second part of MMS would be called Ocean Energy Management, which will be tasked with “sustainable development” of the Outer Continental Shelf. The third part would be the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, in effect the policeman for offshore drilling.
“We want to ensure you are there in a cooperative fashion,” said Mr. Costa at the House Natural Resources meeting on Wednesday.
'No interest in just shuffling boxes'
“We’re happy to meet,” replied Salazar. “We have no interest in just shuffling boxes around, this is fundamental reorganization and we will do that together.”
However, Congress is also concerned about a prior Inspector General report about sex and drug use at MMS. Salazar said most of the 1,700 people who work at MMS are dedicated public servants. But, he added there were some “bad apples” who would be rooted out.
The hearings have had their partisan moments since Salazar blames the Bush administration for many of the MMS’s shortcomings. Republicans say the problems at the agency have transcended administrations. Rep. Rob Bishop (R) of Utah claiming that during the Clinton administration MMS “cost the government money.”
“The problems are not unique to this administration but they are still there,” he said.
What about Chesapeake Bay?
With the oil soiling the Gulf shores, many congressmen reminded Salazar that they don’t want drilling off their shorelines. For example, Rep. John Sarbanes (D) of Maryland wanted to know if Salazar still intended to go ahead with a lease sale about 50 miles east of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.
Salazar didn’t answer directly but called Chesapeake Bay of “national significance.”
In fact, Salazar said among his options was one to “make adjustments based on lessons learned.” He added, “Stay tuned.”