Salazar, Bromwich Testify on Offshore Oil and Gas Enforcement, Oversight, and Reform
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and newly appointed Bureau of Ocean Energy Director Michael Bromwich, testified before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee regarding reforms to strengthen offshore oil and gas oversight and enforcement.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee regarding the BP oil spill crisis and the future of energy and conservation in America.
"Today I am confidant and resolute that we will get through this. And at the end of getting through this period what I see happening is the creation of a catalyst that will have us move forward with a safer set of standards and enforcement mechanisms for oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf. I see this incident as being a catalyst for moving forward with a Gulf coast restoration program that will finally bring about this eco-system restoration program that is so important. And hopefully also will be able to join with all of you as we move forward on a conservation agenda for the United States of America because I think that’s one of the lessons to be learned there."
Michael R. Bromwich, the former Department of Justice Inspector General who is now Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told the committee he will establish an investigations and review unit to expedite his oversight, enforcement and re-organization.
"On the need to change the culture issue, I think that is the key and I think it’s a combination of leadership, it’s that combined with making clear what the mission of the agency is in unmistakable terms. I think it’s a matter of making clear that cozy relationships will not be tolerated. That people for example who are doing inspections who seem to pull back and not be as aggressive as they might be, that that information gets to me and that I find out about people who are not doing their job aggressively and that there are consequences for that. Now I have already tried to start sending that message, but it’s not going to happen overnight. I will need to visit the field installations, I will need to make that point in person. I think creating this unit which I announced this morning will send that message. But it will take some instances of my making clear that I mean business for the culture to start to change. "
A key component to reforming the Bureau is establishing the ability to promptly respond to allegations or evidence of misconduct by Bureau employees as well as by members of industry. This will empower the Bureau to deal with some of its internal problems swiftly and effectively.
"And so it will be a sustained push, it will be making clear that there will be zero tolerance for what has apparently been tolerated in the past. There will be the encouragement of people to come forward with information suggesting corruption among others. So in the short term Senator, there may be more of these allegations that come forward. It’s not going to stop overnight and we’re not going to unearth everything already. So I would ask for your patience on that. But I pledge to all of you that I will work in a very determined and very aggressive way to get that out of this agency."
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar responded to the committee regarding a decision in U.S. District Court regarding the deepwater drilling moratorium.
"I believe it was the correct decision, I believe it was the correct decision today, and with all due respect to the honorable court, we disagree with the court and so we are taking that decision on appeal. At the same time is it important that this moratorium stay in place until we can assure that deep water drilling can be done in a safe way. We’re not there today and so we will move forward with the executive authority which I have to make sure that moratorium does in fact stay in place."