Salazar, Bromwich Testify Before Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Secretary Salazar updated the committee on the BP oil spill and Director Bromwich spoke of his plans for his agency.
Director Michael Bromwich says the name of his agency has evolved to now include the words "regulation and enforcement" making clear the agency's mission.
“Regulation and enforcement have been added to the title of the agency because those elements, I think by consensus have been lacking in the approach of the agency and I am determined to strengthen those functions, and I thought there was no better way to do it than in consultation with the Secretary than to put it, put those words in the name to underscore the point. The second thing of it that I’ve done is to create a new unit which was approved, I’m thankful to say incredibly rapidly by the Secretary. To create an investigations and review unit in the front office of my agency that will enable me to use it as a SWAT team to investigate allegations that are made both against personnel in my agency, but also in respect to the companies that my agency regulates. We are going to be hiring some of the top people available, but in the meantime I’m hoping to get on detail people from the Department of Justice with whom I’ve worked in the past and perhaps other people in government so that we will be able to get up and running immediately to address some of the very significant issues that are on my plate right now.”
Secretary Salazar says the BP oil spill crisis has brought Gulf coast and wetland restoration to the forefront of the President's conservation agenda.
“The President is clear he wants action and he wants to have the Gulf Coast left in a better place than it was on April the 20. And in order to do that, one has to be cognizant of the history. You know, Senator Landrieu and I spent time flying over the marshlands and wetlands of Louisiana long before this event happened , and you can see the degradation that has occurred there decade after decade after decade. And frankly many plans have been put forward on how you restore the Gulf Coast, but at the end of the day, little action has been taken. So Secretary Maybus, at the direction of the President working with me, Administrator Jackson, and others will come up with a plan that will ultimately make the Gulf Coast better.”
Director Bromwich, with only four days on the job, will start by making internal investigations a priority.
“In almost every case where those institutions had grave problems, it was at least in part because they did not have internal investigations, and an internal audit, and an internal review. And so I made that recommendation to the Secretary on Monday, he approved it on Tuesday, and we made that announcement yesterday. I think it is critical-“
What do you hope to get out of it? What problem do you think at MMS it would solve having that internal investigation?
Well, you’re not the hostage at waiting for another entity, in this case the IG, to look at problems that you might have. You’re able as managers of an agency to jump on those problems yourself and try to fix them. The delicate balance is not to in any way usurp the jurisdiction or the purview of the Inspector General, And so I spoke specifically with her about what I envisioned in creating this unit, and she immediately felt very comfortable with my building that capacity and in fact said, ‘We’re glad you’re doing it, and we think it will lead to the agency being better run.’”