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Interior Department Report on Drilling Oversight Calls for More Resources

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today that an Interior Department task force has delivered to him a report that includes 59 recommendations for changes to the way the department oversees offshore drilling.

The report, conducted by the Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board, includes recommendations “to strengthen permitting, inspections, enforcement and environmental stewardship,” according to the Interior Department.

“The report is what I was looking for: it is honest; it doesn’t sugarcoat challenges we know are there; it provides a blueprint for solving them; and it shows that we are on precisely the right track with our reform agenda,” Salazar told reporters on a conference call today.

An Interior Department statement summarizes the recommendations this way:

The report comes as Salazar and Michael Bromwich — director of the newly formed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), which replaced the much-criticized Minerals Management service after the oil spill — are already implementing changes in the department’s oversight of offshore drilling. Those changes include splitting the revenue collection, permitting and environmental oversight functions of the department into three separate agencies.

Salazar also told reporters that he was working on an amendment to the 2011 budget that would provide funding for additional resources at the BOEMRE, including additional inspectors and staff to conduct environmental reviews. Salazar, asked about BP’s internal investigation of the oil spill that was released today, said he is meeting with BP officials later today to discuss the company’s findings.

Bromwich said he was preparing a rulemaking that would impose additional safety measures on the oil industry. That rulemaking will likely be finished by the end of the month. He said he is also developing recommendations on future offshore drilling that will likely determine when the moratorium on offshore drilling is lifted.

Here is the task force’s report. And this is Bromwich’s implementation plan for the recommendations in the report.

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