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Salazar: IG Report Affirms Direction, Urgency of Interior’s Offshore Energy Oversight Reform Agenda

Bromwich: Agency Remains Focused on Strengthening Safety, Environmental Protection, Oversight 12/07/2010 WASHINGTON - A report delivered today by the Department of the Interior's Inspector General (IG) elaborates on the review and analysis of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Safety Oversight Board and identifies many of the issues that lie at the center of ongoing offshore oil and gas oversight reforms already being carried out by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael R. Bromwich, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today.

In a memo to Secretary Salazar accompanying today's IG report, Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall writes that: "this report does not raise any new issues; rather it expounds upon those issues identified in summary fashion in the Safety Oversight Board report."

"We remain focused on implementing the strongest safety and environmental protections and tough and effective oversight of offshore oil and gas operations," said Secretary Salazar. "The recommendations that the IG and the OCS Safety Oversight Board delivered in September are in line with the robust internal reform initiatives Director Bromwich is implementing. The IG has now completed the formal review that I requested, and the report further validates the urgency, direction, and steps we have already taken toward building a transformed regulatory agency with the authorities, resources, and support to provide strong and effective regulation and oversight."

"When the recommendations contained in this report were presented as part of the Safety Oversight Board in early September, we responded immediately by forming implementation teams assigned specific responsibility to act on those recommendations to improve the operations of the agency," said Director Bromwich. "Although their work is not mentioned in the report, the implementation teams have been working hard and making good progress. Each of them will provide me with a detailed report by the end of this month." In response to the OIG report, Director Bromwich provided a letter updating Secretary Salazar on the progress of reforms.

In her memo to Secretary Salazar, Acting IG Kendall also notes that the findings contained in the report are based on information gathered before August, 2010 and that the IG "recognize(s) that many of the recommendations contained in this report are already being addressed by BOEMRE; we commend BOEMRE for the seriousness with which it took the recommendations and the dispatch with which it is acting upon them."

For information about the reforms BOEMRE has undertaken, click here.

Following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Secretary Salazar asked Interior's Inspector General and the newly-established Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board (SOB) to provide recommendations to strengthen permitting, inspections, enforcement and environmental stewardship. Given the similarity of the two missions, staff from the Office of the Inspector General worked jointly with the Safety Oversight Board to analyze information and develop recommendations for the SOB report which was released on September 8, 2010.

The implementation plan Director Bromwich has established for the recommendations address a range of priority issues, including enhancements and innovations in the inspections program, improvements in the enforcement program, and strengthening environmental protections. Strengthening inspections and enforcement - from personnel training to the deterrent effect of fines and civil penalties - is a major focus of the BOEMRE's reform efforts.

A fact sheet about the reforms BOEMRE has undertaken can be found here: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=101156

The September OCS Safety Oversight Board Report is online at: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Salazar-OCS-Safety-Board-Report-a-Blueprint-for-Next-Steps-on-Internal-Reforms-of-Offshore-Energy-Oversight.cfm

The BOEMRE Implementation Plan is online at: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=43676

Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall's memo to Secretary Salazar is available here:
http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=101234

Director Bromwich's letter regarding the progress of BOEMRE reforms is here: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=101209

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