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. Melle

    Carol, This one is a President Obama appointee. July 2009 was the date of her appointment. Come on, you're going to have to get a lot more ceative to blame this on President Bush. You could, however, get together with that other great inventor, Sen. Chris Dodd, and be sure not to let a little thing like the TRUTH stand in your way! Salazar and Napolitano are also Pres. Obama appointees and along with the other incompetents in this administraion,belong under the same bus

    May 27, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Buddy

      How many innocent people died between Bush's 9/11 & Katrina and this oil spill?

      May 27, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |

    Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum was she the one that cancelled the safety inspection on that Oil rig. I didi near on the news CNN last week that the person that is in charge of safety inspections on the Oil rigs out of a govermnet agency cancelled the Safety Inspection on that rig and others from BP just weeks before the accident.It is clear to see if the Safery Inspection was allowed to go on as scheadulled the Oil rig may have been shut down due to some of the safety features not functioning as they should have to shut down the flow of oil in case of Emergency.
    Now is that the reason she lost her job? Why not look into this to find out for sure? I also did hear on the news last week or so that she accepted some money from the Oil Industry or BP I cant remember if it was one or the other but the money was for some election for her to the tune of $325,000

    May 27, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Melle

    Jessica, The point that you are missig is that Fedeal Govenment is ultimately responsible for the protection of The American People, our land and our liberty and our pursuit of happiness. There are millions of people, miles and miles of land, natural resources, such as wildlife and tourist industries that have been allowed to be destroyed by this administration. Neither President Obama nor this administration is responsible for this horrific accident, that's BP's problem and one for which they may pay with the loss of their company. The RESPONSE to the horror is, by definition, the responsibility of the Obama Administration and his numerous appointees, who for 38 days have watched from the sidelines and point fingures at everyone that they can think of! Now, he has thrown one mid-management appointee of his under the bus. I think there are many others that belong under the same bus with her.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buddy

      Bush sat reading 'My Pet Goat' while New York burned and innocent people died...
      Thanks For Playing!

      May 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Frank Rizzo

    It should already be on the books that accepting gifts or any monetary awards is illegal is called " unlawful public conduct by a Federal Official", I said anyone who accepted these gifts should be charged and if convicted should go to JAIL, and why not...It's about time the FBI do their damn freaking job.......

    May 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Barry

    This is exactly the same as the Abu Garib enlisted personel that took the fall. Until all members of Congress, who allow lobbyists access to their office and who take $1,000 campaign contributions are removed, we will continue to see the lowly members of governmental departments take the fall for wrong doing by that department. Washington is oileze for easy pickens.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. J DOG7.62mm

    If it were Bush she woulda got promoted

    May 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cyd

    A top to bottom investigation starting with Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service and every employee that worked there. The Republicans are trying to have it both ways. They're in bed with the oil companies and have deregulated every law on the books like the oil gushing out 8,000 feet under the sea. They hate government all together now they want government to fix the problem. the Republicans should fire themselves, that way no reasonable person will never hear the nasty felt come out there mouths. BP and every company connected to the disaster of historical proportions should be investigated and if found negligent be sentenced 15 to 20 years in prison or the amount of time it takes to replace or bring back the Gulf to the day before the disaster. Plus congress must pass a comprehensive safety law the prevents this same disaster from happening again.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. russell C

    Here is another example of "beltway" bias and incest.

    They placed a Harvard Lawyer in an oil management position; not a scientist or engineer from a mid-west University with no oil industry or "beltway"connections.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eyes Open

    Is she wearing a headband at a conference? Yes, she should be fired...horrible style!

    May 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Damião Carlos

    First of all, let me spread my website blog and at the first time congratulated for this great website where we can express our free view points...

    May 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thomas from Reno

    How many politicians became lobbyists after they left Congress? Who are they. Where are they now and who do they now represent? Who did they represent? Who do the current politicians represent? Is their a record of who is going in and out of the revolving doors?

    May 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. derek

    no women are qualify for this job. oil is a man business. let the women do the paper work, not set the motion of business conduct.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    OK, everybody wants to blame the President. BP is the criminal here of the highest order. Our goverment doesn't have equipment to stop oil gushers. So why does the goverment get the blame. We as American people should blame ourselves for being stone stumbling drunk on oil to the point we spite our furture in green energy just for another hit crack oil. Can you say addicted oil addicts! C'mon.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivan Libya

      @Frank, get a clue! The government was supposed to over see the MMS which was supposed to over see drilling operations, so, if you can't two and two together, I'm afraid you need more help than I can provide.

      May 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. brown

    Salazar's politically correct and positive comments about Czar Birnbaum's corrupt organization demonstrate without any doubt his inability to effectively manage the Department of the Interior.

    Salazar should resign immediately, he still doesn't get it!

    May 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ky'Anne

    They would come out better if they used big globs of CRAZY GLUE...don't laugh. It will work better than all that other crap that you are attempting to do...a blind fool can see that that ish ain't gon' work!

    May 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
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