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Gulf oil spill: Head of Minerals Management Service quits [Updated]

Elizabeth Birnbaum has resigned her post as head of the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the beleaguered federal agency that oversees offshore oil drilling.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the resignation Thursday morning at a House subcommittee hearing on the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Salazar said Birnbaum resigned on her own terms, and he praised her as a good public servant.

[Updated at 9:17 a.m.: "Liz Birnbaum has resigned as the director of the Minerals Management Service. She did it on her own terms, in her own volition," Salazar said.

"But I will say this about Liz Birnbaum. She is a strong and very effective person who, among other things, helped us break through the very difficult issues," the secretary said. "She helped us in moving forward in addressing what was a very broken system that we found when I came into the Department of Interior. And all I can really tell this committee is she is a good public servant."

In a statement, Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, the ranking Republican of the House Natural Resources Committee said: “This is a clear admission that the Obama administration failed in their oversight responsibilities, but there are still well-documented failings at MMS that must be fixed.”]

The agency, which is part of the Interior Department, has been under fire from lawmakers and environmentalists who question whether poor oversight played a role in the leak, which has poured millions of gallons of oil into the gulf.

[Updated at 8:57 a.m.: Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), chairman of House Natural Resources Committee said the departure of Birnbaum was a start.

“The departure of Elizabeth Birnbaum from MMS does not address the root problem. She has only been the public face of MMS for 11 months and the most serious allegations occurred prior to her tenure. This might on the surface be a good start but must not be the end game, he said.]

-- Michael Muskal in Los Angeles and Richard Simon in Washington


Federal report slams drilling inspectors

Comments () | Archives (7)

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Resignation or not, Liz, along with the worker who did NOT porperly inspect the Deepwater HOrizon oil Rig, should be tried for involuntary manslaughter and all the ecological damages that r occuring in the Gulf. I say try 'em and the fry 'em!

Lets Get Rid of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Lawmakers are examining the leadership of the Minerals Management Service, a bureau of the Department of the Interior. The Interior Department is charged with enforcing environmental and safety rules for energy exploration.

On April 28 Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his decision at a joint Massachusetts State House news conference with Gov. Deval Patrick voting to go forward with the Nantucket wind turbine project. The same day of this decision, more than 5,000 barrels of oil had poured into the Gulf of Mexico. (One barrel equals 42 gallons.)

An internal investigation found that in 2008 many at the Minerals Management Service were involved with substance abuse. It was stated that workers accepted gifts and trips.

Salazar decided to make a decision on the Nantucket ocean wind project himself. The decision was to go forward with the first ocean wind project the very day of the Gulf oil spill!

Salazar has now decided to split the MMS into two agencies on the heels of going forward with the wind turbine project. We have to question the regulatory breakdowns happening at Minerals Management.

Every resident of Massachusetts should question the judgment of the Mineral Management Service ocean wind turbine decision before any more projects approved by MMS go forward! Did the MMS since 2009 put too much emphasis on wind and other renewable energy sources?

Those most familiar with the MMS review of Cape Wind recognize that the weight of the project draft and final Environmental Statements is not relevant, but the lacking quality of the content is. MMS has ignored and sanitized the testimony provided on the Cape Wind project indicating this conclusion by Salazar was foregone and politically motivated. Cape Wind is not about public interest. Cape Wind threatens public interests that include environmental and economic interests.

I worked for multiple agencies of the federal government for part of the 1960s and most of the 1970s.

I was dumbfounded by how clueless, inept and, in a word, worthless the agencies of our federal government are. Folks are being paid very well, indeed, for accomplishing very little. It's been reported recently that, when benefits are taken into account, the average federal employees makes about $120,000 per year versus about $50,000 in the private sector.

Federal agency workers tend to become very "cozy" with the employees of the firms they are supposedly regulating. The reason is they are hoping that, following their early retirement from the government, they can move into a highly-paid position in the firms they regulate.

Meanwhile, those few federal employees who do peform their sworn duties, thereby earning the ire of the firms they regulate, discover that they are never promoted and even castigated by the federal-agency management for "harassing" the firms.

Truth be told, in terms of what they get for the hundreds of billions of dollars they spend on their federal agencies, the taxpayers of the US are getting extremely poor value, indeed.

How many people are there with well paid jobs who are in fact incompetent? They pull in big bucks for a BS job then when there's a crisis they are found out. What we have now is The Incompetent Generation molly coddled thru schools which never teach them responsibilty.

...cannon fodder!......let heads roll!....from top to bottom!!.....the people working for the this department are federal employees. if, upon investigation, these people are found to have violated any codes of ethics, administrative practices, falsified documents, performed in a substandard manner and/or failed to meet their obligations as employees, they should be terminated and if any laws violated, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law!!...enuff is enuff!!!

Blame game. And these wells have been there how long?

dum dum dum, another one bites the dust...........

And another one down, another one down, another one bites the dust.


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