Salazar splinters troubled MMS into three parts

The restructuring will result in three separate agencies.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be tasked with the “sustainable development” of offshore energy, including oil-and-gas and renewable sources.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will be responsible for “ensuring comprehensive oversight, safety, and environmental protection in all offshore energy activities,” Interior said. Salazar, in a press conference Wednesday, said this agency would be the “police” of offshore oil-and-gas operations.

Finally, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue will be responsible for royalty collections, auditing and related tasks.

To emphasize the separation of environmental enforcement from revenue collections, Interior noted the first two agencies will be operated under Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Wilma Lewis, while the revenue office will be under a separate official, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Rhea Suh.

Salazar will be pressed for more details on the plan next week when he appears before another congressional panel to discuss the oil spill and his agency's response and oversight responsibilities. He is scheduled to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee on May 26. On Tuesday, Salazar appeared before two Senate panels.

“The Secretary has proposed a bold initiative to shake up a badly troubled agency by separating its three basic missions. While I commend him, the devil is in the details and that is part of what we will be examining next week when Secretary Salazar appears before my committee,” Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said.