Friday, May 28, 2010

MMS Director's Game of Telephone Ends in Firing

One point about the recent federal regulatory debacle and lack of oversight that played part in the worst oil spill in U.S. history, it highlights why there must be local oil and gas drilling and production protective ordinances.

The New York Times

Published: May 28, 2010

"Minerals Management Service Director Liz Birnbaum might have kept her job a little longer if she'd stayed in her office and kept her phone on the hook yesterday.

Instead, she was forced to resign in a move that highlights the Obama administration's struggle to stay ahead of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis. The ongoing spill is flinging loose years of dirty laundry from the agency Birnbaum ran for less than a year.

The now-ex MMS director was in her office early yesterday, preparing to testify before an congressional panel about the agency's role in handling BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as she had several times in recent weeks.

Yesterday morning was different, according to congressional sources. Someone from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's office called and said the secretary did not want her to attend the House hearing. Following a harsh New York Times profile that highlighted her low profile in the crisis, that might have seemed like a bad omen.

But Birnbaum, the former veteran congressional staffer, was worried more about stiffing a committee chairman than what this meant for her job. She called Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, where she was supposed to testify, to tell him she would not be appearing.

Moran called Salazar, who then walked out of his sixth-floor hallway with Deputy Secretary David Hayes. They went one floor down and four hallways over to Birnbaum's office in 5400 corridor of Main Interior and asked her to resign.

Hayes, who has taken the lead for Salazar on the spill, testified in Birnbaum's place at the hearing." More>>>>

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