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DOI team completes review of offshore oil, gas oversight, regulation

Posted on 09 September 2010

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that a team led by senior officials in the Department of the Interior (DOI) has completed a review of offshore oil and gas oversight and regulation and has delivered a set of recommendations that reinforce and expand on ongoing reforms being carried out by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM).

The report of the Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board, which was established following the Macondo blowout, provides recommendations to strengthen permitting, inspections, enforcement and environmental stewardship. The findings and recommendations provide a framework to build on reforms to create more accountability, efficiency and effectiveness in the Interior agencies. The recommendations address both short- and long-term efforts that complement other ongoing reports and reviews, such as Secretary Salazar’s 27 May report to the president, the presidential inquiry into the spill and the US Coast Guard-Interior investigation into the causes of the incident.

The recommendations range from improved consistency and communication of BOEM’s operational policies to technology improvements and day-to-day management in the field. Strengthening inspections and enforcement – from personnel training to the deterrent effect of fines and civil penalties – is a major focus of the recommendations.

BOEM director Michael Bromwich announced today the agency has developed an implementation plan for the recommendations, many of which are already under way or planned.

The plan outlines the initiatives and programs that the agency is undertaking to address the report’s recommendations. This includes reorganizing the MMS to address conflicts between resource management, safety and environmental oversight and enforcement, and revenue collection responsibilities; seeking additional resources in the form of funding, personnel, equipment and information systems; ethics reforms that include the establishment of an investigations and review unit and a new recusal policy to address potential conflicts of interests within BOEM and industry; and inter-agency coordination with federal agencies related to oil spill response and the mitigation of environmental effects of offshore energy development.

Secretary Salazar commented: “The report is what I was looking for: It is honest; it doesn’t sugarcoat challenges we know are there; it provides a blueprint for solving them; and it shows that we are on precisely the right track with our reform agenda.”

Director Bromwich noted that the initiatives are consistent with the reform agenda he has been developing and implementing. “Many of the board’s recommendations will be addressed through initiatives and programs that are already in process and are central to our reform agenda,” he said.

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