Groups demand BP responsibility for oil disaster; Interior Department restructures oversight
- Length: 3:19 minutes (3.04 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Today marks the one-month anniversary of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers and launched a massive oil spill which continues to pollute the Gulf Coast. To mark the anniversary, the Energy Action Coalition organized more than 40 rallies, protests and vigils across the country today. Ethan Nuss is co-field director for the organization, a coalition of dozens of youth-led environmental and social justice organizations. He said they have several demands.
"First is to hold BP entirely responsible for the clean up of the disaster they've created; second is to ban any new offshore oil drillling from happening, that's the root cause of this disaster we don't want to allow it anymore; and third is to dramatically pivot to clean and safe energy that will help create sustainable communities and healthy communities here in the US and move away from the energy that harms our health and our environment."
Nuss says they want to remove the new off-shore drilling provisions from the Senate's pending climate change bill.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed an order Wednesday to fundamentally restructure the agency that oversees off shore oil drilling. The Minerals Management Service, or MMS, has come under criticism since the April 20th explosion for lax oversight and weak regulation. Salazar said the order would split the agency into three separate entities with independent missions.
"These three missions, energy development, enforcement and revenue collection are conflicting missions and must be separated, so today I am ordering the division of MMS into three distinct entities: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Office of Natural Resource Revenues."
Salazar said each agency would have a distinct mandate. First, The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would oversee conventional and renewable energy projects, and be in charge of leasing and planning. Second, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, would be tasked with royalty and revenue collection and auditing. And third, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement would have the authority to "inspect, investigate, summon witnesses" and levy penalties or suspend and cancel drilling activities.
Responding to questions of why the department announced the reorganization only after the massive oil spill - even when widespread problems of the MMS had been known and identified - Salazar said the move is part of a longer process of reevaluation.
"This reorginzation is vital to our ongoing reform efforts. The employees of MMS deserve an organizational structure that fits the mission that they are asked to carry out. They will get greater clarity for their roles and responsibilities and we will be able to strengthen oversight of the companies that develop the nation's energy resources."
Salazar ordered his staff to develop details of the reorganization and report back within thirty days.