Salazar Didn’t Focus On Reforming Minerals Management Agency Before Spill

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service has long been known to have an intensely intimate relationship with the extractive industries it regulates. But when President Obama, and his Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, took office in 2009, they proceeded to make some changes to ethics rules in the wake of a sex and drugs scandal in MMS’ Denver office — and that’s about it.

The Times has a look at why the administration failed to order a full overhaul at MMS:

Shortly after he was appointed in 2009, Mr. Salazar visited the agency’s Denver office and declared at a news conference that he was the “new sheriff in town” who would bring significant changes. He issued new ethics guidelines and eliminated a controversial royalty program.

But it is now clear that he did little else, focusing his energies elsewhere, for example on offshore wind projects. …

“At M.M.S., Ken Salazar was in the process of making these reforms,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “But the point that I’m making is that, obviously, they weren’t happening fast enough.”

Since the spill, of course, the administration has taken the more drastic step of breaking up MMS, separating the parts of the agency that collect royalties and enforce environmental regulations. Some critics argue the administration still hasn’t gone far enough.

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