Interior plans to create separate royalty collection agency
The Obama administration plans to split the Minerals Management Service into two separate agencies.

One agency will handle royalty collection on federal and Indian lands. The change will impact billions of dollars in royalties owed to tribes and individual Indians.

The other agency will focus on safety and environmental issues. The plan was developed in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We will responsibly and thoughtfully move to establish independence and separation for this critical mission so that the American people know they have a strong and independent organization holding energy companies accountable and in compliance with the law of the land," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday.

MMS has been repeatedly faulted for being too close to the oil and gas industry. A recent investigation found employees who engaged in sexual activity and maintained close personal relationships with representatives of energy companies. They also accepted gifts from the companies.

In 2003, MMS employees falsified Indian trust data and one of them was even given a cash award for "creativity." The employees were later disciplined.

Get the Story:
Offshore drilling agency to undergo radical overhaul, Salazar announces (The Washington Post 5/12)
U.S. to Split Up Agency Policing the Oil Industry (The New York Times 5/12)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Industry Doesn’t Step Up (The New York Times 5/12)

Relevant Documents:
Salazar Launches Safety and Environmental Protection Reforms to Toughen Oversight of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations

Related Stories:
Column: Bad history for oil agency at Interior Department (5/10)
Johnny Flynn: Oil development one of the most dangerous (5/6)
Obama calls oil spill in Gulf of Mexico a 'massive' disaster (5/3)