Interior drilling chief urges Congress to stiffen penalties

Michael Bromwich, who directs the Interior Department's offshore drilling agency, on Thursday said higher penalties are needed for industry violations of environmental and safety rules. 

"We are ... looking for ways to enhance the civil penalties available for violations of BOEMRE's safety and environmental regulations, although our view is that legislation is required to make those more meaningful," said Bromwich, who directs the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. 

"The current enforcement framework, which permits maximum fines of only $35,000 per day, per incident, is patently inadequate to deter violations," he said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

Bromwich listed this among a large number of reforms the agency is undertaking, such as new inspection and enforcement programs related to environmental compliance, comprehensive reviews of companies' oil spill response plans, better training programs for inspectors and engineers, and many others. 

The agency has already issued new safety rules in the wake of the BP oil spill.