Land management chief to take over drilling agency

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Published: May 28,2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management is stepping in to run the much-criticized agency that oversees offshore oil drilling.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday that Bob Abbey will begin to restructure the drilling agency, which has come under fire for lax oversight in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Abbey also will continue as chief of the land bureau.

Elizabeth Birnbaum resigned under pressure Thursday as director of the Minerals Management Service. She had been criticized by lawmakers and others for failing to move quickly to reverse a culture in which regulators favored the oil and natural gas industry. Some agency inspectors have accepted trips, gifts and other favors from the industry.

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