Tuesday, 25 January 2011

U.S. Interior Secretary Acknowledges Oil Regulation Problems

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar acknowledged before lawmakers yesterday that his agency had issues with their oversight of offshore drilling activities and that those problems may have helped contribute to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Said Salazar, "There will be tremendous lessons to be learned here." Three Senate panels held hearing yesterday on the oil spill, with Salazar attending two of them. The government also acted yesterday to increase the area of the Gulf where fishing has been shot down, raising that level to a total of 46,000 square miles, which is about 19% of federal waters.

Scientists with the U.S. government also continued to monitor and survey the Gulf to determine if oil had entered a current that would take it to Florida and then eventually up the East Coast of the U.S. Tar balls have already washed up on the shores of Key West, Florida and have been shipped to a lab to determine if they came from the Gulf spill. Salazar, for his part, promised an overhaul of federal regulations relating to oil drilling and exploration activities, and also said that blame for the incident should be shared by both the oil industry and the government, quite a departure from the recent government theme of corporate greed and evil.

Noted Salazar of the Minerals Management Service, "We need to clean up that house," adding that even though most of the employees of the agency are good folks, there were "a few bad apples." Already President Obama has proposed splitting the agency into two parts so that regulatory duties are the responsibility of a different group from that which collects royalty fees from oil and gas companies.