White House Asks for Funding to Ramp Up Drilling Oversight
The White House sent a budget amendment to Congress last night that would set aside money for the reorganization of the Interior Department’s offshore drilling oversight agency.
The reorganization is part of a broad effort by the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill to ensure that the oil and gas industry is held to higher safety standards. The administration requests just over $66 million in new budget authority to reorganize the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (which was formerly the Minerals Management Service). Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to separate the bureau into three agencies focusing on environmental oversight, revenue collection and permitting.
The White House also sent to Congress another budget amendment requesting more than $8 million for additional research on offshore drilling.
The cost of the new authority would be offset by a significant increase in the fees charged to oil and natural gas companies for inspections, a move the oil industry is already criticizing.