Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today proposed the first of what we hope will be a long string of reforms aimed at strengthening the regulations of oil industry operations and curtailing the industry’s cozy relationship with the federal government agency responsible for overseeing its operations.
The Minerals Management Service, or MMS, has long suffered from a built-in conflict of interest between promoting --and regulating-- offshore oil and gas development. Salazar’s announcement that he intends to split off the safety and environmental enforcement aspect of the agency’s work is a welcome start, but this alone does not solve the inherent conflict between the drive to develop and the government’s responsibility to promote and protect other livelihoods and the environment.
NRDC would like to see much more than a bureaucratic restructuring. For one thing, other federal agencies with stewardship responsibilities over oceans, fish and wildlife need to be given a much stronger role in making decisions on where and how drilling activity occurs in the Outer Continental Shelf occurs and under what conditions.
We will be blogging on needed reforms as we learn more about the announcement.