May 27th, 2010
11:07 AM ET

Director of offshore drilling agency out

[Updated at 11:07 a.m.] Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the House Appropriations subcommittee that Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum resigned.

"She did it on her own terms and own volition," Salazar said. "But I will say she is a strong and very effective person who among other things helped us break through the very difficult things, which we have a lot more work to do. She helped us with addressing a very broken system. And all I can really tell this committee is that she is a good public servant."

[Posted at 10:51 a.m.] Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service which oversees offshore drilling, has been fired, a source tells CNN.

A senior administration official also told CNN that Birnbaum has been fired and that an official announcement will come at the President Obama’s news conference, which is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. ET Thursday.

The decision to fire Birnbaum comes in the wake of a recently released report highlighting what many observers have characterized as widespread corruption at the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which is part of the Interior Department.

Among other things, the report, issued by the Interior Department's inspector general, revealed that federal inspectors overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted meals and tickets to sporting events from companies they monitored.

In one case, an inspector in the MMS office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, conducted inspections of four offshore platforms while negotiating a job with the company, the report stated.

As part of the growing push to crack down on the MMS, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, introduced legislation Wednesday requiring federal oil industry regulators to wait at least two years after leaving government service before going to work for companies they helped regulate.

Among other things, the bill would bar regulators from accepting gifts from oil companies. It also would require regulators to divest any stock they may currently hold in oil companies, and prohibit regulators from part-time employment in the industry.

While introducing the bill, Nelson blasted a "cozy, incestuous relationship between the oil industry and the regulators."

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Filed under: Gulf Coast Oil Spill
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Jaime Greer


    May 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wolfman


    May 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kamiel

    Yeeeeeeeeeep, another great Obama appointee. They needed her to direct how the gifts were "re-allocated"

    May 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sonya

    So a bunch of company execs go to Washington and tell everyone that the whole oil industry will go to heck if they are not allowed to continue drilling. Blah,blah,blah,blah. When is the government going to step in and tell BP that they need to get off the pot. Get another oil drilling company to come in and drill a parallel line next to the leaking one and see if they can plug the well from the inside. Or can they crimp the hose more to reduce the amount of oil spewing.

    May 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ivan Libya

    yes, great job, I won't be able to vacation in the gulf for the next decade, but great job!

    May 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. USA1

    Obama has been so busy advancing his radical agenda and making plans for vacation that the oil spill has been mute to him.
    I really don't care that Obama got up this morning and shaved or he fired anyone. He is so inexperienced that this oil spill is so out of his hands and the federal government has totally FAILED.
    Louisana and the Gulf Coast states need to tell Obama to get out of their way once and for all AND these states will get it fixed.
    Obama has tied the Governor of Lousiana's hands and has not let him put into place procedures to stop or hold off the oil.
    Why, Obama, the one whom has robbed the US taxpayers, states it would be too costly. Are you kidding me Obama?????

    Obama owns this mess and lack of responsibility totally and he knows d–n well he did not have any REAL SERIOUS OVER SIGHT IN PLACE and January 20, 2009 had come and gone. Obama has inexperienced Chicago or Harvard thugs running the White House. Obama is so lawyered up by now it is pathetic.

    May 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David Foster

    Simplicity – Set two huge ankors on either side of the leak, attach chains with a winch from one ankor to the other, have the chains go right over the leak, weld a curved steel plate to the chains right over the leak, attach a thick flexible fabric material to the steel plate – winch the assembly down pulling the steel backed fabric down over the leak.

    May 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Botos Barnab√°s

    Please, read my letter, because in my opinion my ideas could be interesting
    enoung to publish them in you magazine

    The Origin of Mankind an Animals

    I would like to announce a great sensation. After thirty years' steady search I have
    managed to solve the origin of mankind and animals and Iknow why we live here,
    on this planet called the Earth.

    Where does life come from? This is an old guestion which is still unsolved.Iread
    Plenty of scientific books and listened to scientific argumentations before
    summarizing my theori.
    In my opinion the secret of the origin has been unknown, because the wrong way
    has been chosen when the others have tried to fínd the solution.

    Iown two books with special opinions, but the authors do not pay attention to a
    fact, which could be the proper basic to the search .Why? Maybe, during their
    research, everyone has tried to find their personal profits.
    It was written thousands years ago,that when somebody would find the origin of
    life, it would have to be announced to:' everybody everybody will see and listen to

    I own three books of which I have summarized the origin of life and the fact, why
    it is not infinite. Ihave evidence that UFOs do not exist so human beings are the
    most intelligent in the Universe. I can answer guestions like: Why is the genetic
    code of human beings so similar /99,4% to the code of the chimpanzee?
    We have faulty ideas of life so we go on the wrong way.

    It would be a great pleasure for me if I could find a newspaper or magazine which
    published my ideas and aTV station which transmitted them. We could be much
    cleverer then /Although as Einstein said: The Universe and the supidity of people
    are infinite, but I am not sure about my first idea./
    So I ask for your help so that I can announce my theory, which has not been
    solved for over 11,000 years, when civilization started.

    I have been working hard in my life, but sometimes I have been robbed. I would
    like to keep the secret until I share it with everybody in a press conference. Then I
    gave the knowledge which would be about three books. Then I can be asked and I
    will do answer all the guestions, because my evidence is 100 per cent sure.

    I look forward to answering my letter.
    Yours faithfully: Barnab√°s Botos

    Rákóczi utca 61

    July 12, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
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