Interior names new offshore drilling safety chief

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Salerno arrives as the BSEE prepares new standards for subsea blowout preventers, the latest of various drilling safety rules imposed after the fatal 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident that spilled several million barrels of oil from BP’s ruptured Macondo well.

That accident was in deep waters, but the BSEE has also recently increased its attention to shallow-water drilling risks following a string of accidents.

“As we continue to strengthen the nation’s program to ensure safe and responsible offshore oil and gas exploration and development, I believe Brian has the experience, vision, and the leadership to be a great asset to the Bureau, the Department and the nation,” Jewell said.

The BSEE was created in the wake of the 2010 BP disaster, which led to the overhaul of Interior’s long-troubled offshore drilling oversight and regulation.

Then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar brought in Michael Bromwich, an attorney and former Justice Department official, to lead the overhaul.

Bromwich, who now has his own consulting shop, cheered Salerno’s selection.

“I was fortunate enough to work closely with Admiral Salerno on a variety of matters following Deepwater Horizon, including the investigation into that tragedy and many related regulatory and enforcement issues. I found him to be highly competent, extremely professional, and a person of integrity,” Bromwich said in a statement.

He said Salerno knows “the importance of making sure that offshore drilling is appropriately regulated and existing regulations vigorously enforced.”

Salerno’s education includes a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College and a master’s degree in administrative science from Johns Hopkins University, according to Interior.

In addition to working on the response to the BP disaster, his tenure at the Coast Guard included service as “incident commander for responses to several large-scale transportation accidents, oil spills and hurricanes,” Interior said.