BSEE's Watson Briefs Committee on FY2013 Budget Request

The $222.2 million request includes $3.7 million in base funding for the National Offshore Training and Learning Center, where federal inspectors are being trained.

James Watson, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, briefed members of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on March 8 about his agency’s $222.2 million budget request for FY2013 and its progress in enacting safety regulations and carrying out oversight of offshore drilling.

BSEE has begun to set up its National Offshore Training and Learning Center and has put two groups of BSEE inspectors through a core curriculum in offshore inspections, he said in his printed remarks. Inspectors also have "new eqwuipment and new tools, including handheld computers," to make their inspections more efficient.

The training center's appropriation in the proposed budget is $3.7 million.

BSEE and a second agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, were formed in a reorganization of the Minerals Management Service after the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Watson said his agency has increased its inspector personnel by more than 50 percent since the explosion and also has increased its engineering staff, who perform critical safety functions, by nearly 10 percent.

The agency is reviewing comments received about its proposed SEMS II rule (the initial Safety and Environmental Management Systems rule, which that offshore operators implement comprehensive safety programs and procedures, is already in effect).

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