By Andrew Restuccia - 12/27/11 09:37 PM EST
“There will be no shortage of challenges ahead for BSEE, but I’m pleased to have someone of Margaret’s character, experience and vision as we move ahead in enforcing safety and environmental protection for offshore oil and gas operations.”
Schneider spent 30 years at the EPA, where she focused on water and enforcement issues, among other things. She will replace Bob LaBelle, who had served as acting deputy director at the department. LaBelle will become science adviser at Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
BSEE was one of two departments formed in October to replace the former Minerals Management Service, the long-troubled agency that came under fire in the wake of the BP spill on the Gulf Coast.
Interior last year began restructuring MMS and rebranded it as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Interior also moved offshore revenue collections into another part of the department.
BSEE is charged with enforcing a slew of beefed-up safety and environmental regulations put in place in the months after the spill.
Watson took over as BSEE director after Michael Bromwich, who oversaw the restructuring of the Interior Department’s offshore drilling branch, stepped down.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated where Bob LaBelle has been reassigned.