Interior Creating Offshore Energy Safety Advisory Committee

Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich also announced the new structure of what was MMS: Two independent agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion and Gulf of Mexico oil spill brought an end to the Minerals Management Service (MMS). On Jan. 19, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich announced the two agencies replacing it: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

BOEM will be responsible for leasing, with additional responsibilities including environmental studies, National Environmental Policy Act analysis, and economic analysis. BSEE will enforce safety and environmental regulations, with field operations handling permitting and research, inspections, offshore regulatory programs, oil spill response, training, and environmental compliance.

They also announced a permanent Offshore Energy Safety Advisory Committee has been formed and will be chaired by Tom Hunter, former director of the Sandia National Laboratory. A Federal Register notice will solicit nominations for the other 12 members.

"We are moving ahead quickly and responsibly to establish the strong, independent oversight of offshore oil and gas drilling that is needed to ensure that companies are operating safely and in compliance with the law," Salazar said. "With Director Bromwich's leadership, the recommendations of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and other outside guidance, we are making swift progress in implementing the reorganization plan we put in motion last year. With the leadership of Dr. Tom Hunter, we will also bring together the top minds inside and outside government to help ensure that regulations, safety standards, and well containment capabilities never again fall behind drilling technology and practices."

"The former MMS was saddled with the conflicting missions of promoting resource development, enforcing safety regulations, and maximizing revenues from offshore operations," added Bromwich. "Those conflicts, combined with a chronic lack of resources, prevented the agency from fully meeting the challenges of overseeing industry operating in U.S. waters. The reorganization is designed to remove those conflicts by clarifying and separating missions across the three agencies and providing each of the new agencies with clear missions and new resources necessary to fulfill those missions.”

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