Obama to toughen big oil oversight

By Suzanne Malveaux, CNN White House Correspondent


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Obama administration, eager to show it is responding to the Gulf Coast oil spill, will announce plans Tuesday to split up an Interior Department agency that oversees offshore drilling, White House officials confirmed.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs first sent out a Twitter with the news, and then confirmed its accuracy, addressing the "plan to split offshore drilling agency -- one to inspect oil rigs and enforce safety, other to oversee leases, royalties."

horizon_oil_spill.03.jpg

The official announcement by the Department of Interior will be made at an afternoon news conference with Secretary Ken Salazar. According to a DOI release, Salazar will address new reforms "to toughen oversight of offshore oil and gas operations."

Salazar will propose splitting the Minerals Management Service, which is the government agency that oversees the oil business, into two separate ones. One agency would investigate oil companies, inspect oil rigs, and enforce safety regulations. The second would collect oil drilling royalties and oversee drilling leases.

As it stands now, MMS collects oil and gas drilling royalties and enforces regulations that apply to drilling.

Critics, like Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, say it's a conflict of interest for MMS to do both. In a letter to the Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall, Nelson wrote, "I ask that you determine in your investigation the extent to which the oil and natural gas industry exercised influence in the agency's rulemaking process." Nelson has long been an opponent of expanding offshore drilling.

Following the Gulf Coast oil spill, MMS was accused of understating the amount of previous oil spills in the region.

President Barack Obama ordered a 30 day review of offshore drilling following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Tuesday's reforms are expected to be the first of several changes coming from the Interior Department. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.78%3.79%
15 yr fixed2.98%2.93%
5/1 ARM3.06%2.99%
30 yr refi3.85%3.85%
15 yr refi3.05%3.00%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,080.14 21.45 0.12%
Nasdaq 5,092.09 36.02 0.71%
S&P 500 2,117.69 4.76 0.23%
Treasuries 1.92 -0.03 -1.54%
Data as of 12:59pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Microsoft Corp 47.87 4.53 10.45%
Apple Inc 130.28 0.61 0.47%
Comcast Corp 59.64 0.41 0.69%
AT&T Inc 34.01 -0.22 -0.64%
Xerox Corp 11.99 -1.15 -8.75%
Data as of Apr 24
Sponsors

Sections

Shares in Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo dropped sharply Friday after hoaxers claimed its CEO had quit after faking billions in profits. More

The impact of rising immigration on Britain's economy has become a hot topic in the election campaign. More

Stars of Youtube, Vine, Snapchat, and Twitter are attending this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. More

A Girl Scouts Cookie Oven rolling out to Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart stores this summer will let you bake those iconic thin mints right at home. More