2 New Agencies to Split Offshore Drilling Duties

Thursday, 20 Jan 2011 08:14 AM


  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two new government agencies that will be operating by October will divide the responsibilities of leasing America's offshore energy reserves and enforcing safety rules for drilling, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Wednesday.

The leasing agency will award tracts in federal waters to energy companies to explore for oil or natural gas, while the second agency will enforce safety and environmental regulations on those leased areas.

"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 told reporters.

The agencies, along with a third one already established to collect royalties from production on federal leases, will replace the Interior Department's scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service, which had carried out all three responsibilities.

Salazar also said he was creating a permanent committee of scientific, engineering and technical experts to advise on improving offshore drilling safety and responding to oil spills.

The changes are part of the reforms resulting from the BP oil spill and reflect recommendations from the special presidential commission that looked into the accident.

Green groups welcomed Salazar's plan to separate offshore leasing from safety inspections of drilling rigs.

"For far too long, the drive to maximize leasing and drilling have trumped the efforts of safety regulators, inspections and enforcement," said Mike Gravitz with Environment America.

However, the oil industry and its congressional backers are worried the Obama administration is adding more government bureaucracy that will slow the process of issuing offshore drilling permits.

"As the agency moves toward its new structure, its leaders must ask themselves whether it is adequately carrying out its mandated mission to oversee the development of America's offshore energy resources," said Jim Noe, who heads a group representing shallow water drillers.

"With the average price of gasoline steadily rising and an Iranian-controlled OPEC advocating for higher prices, families already struggling to makes ends meet cannot afford to have American energy development slowed down by new layers of bureaucratic red tape," Representative Doc Hastings, the new Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

Salazar said developing the oil and natural gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico were vital to the U.S. economy.

But he declined to speculate on when the department would issue its first deepwater oil exploration permit since the temporary offshore drilling ban imposed after the BP oil spill was lifted in October.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

McConnell Slams Federal 'Bailout' of Ky. Obamacare Provider

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 16:42 PM

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blasted the federal government's decision to provide a secret $65 mi . . .

Obama Called Only on Female Reporters at Year-End Presser

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 16:21 PM

President Barack Obama took questions only from women reporters at his year-end press conference on Friday , eight of th . . .

Tom Harkin's Last Hurrah: Change Our National Anthem

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 14:07 PM

Retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin spent his final hours in Congress getting his pet peeve off his chest - the national . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved