records suggest feds ignoring offshore environmental enforcement - oil spill absorbent
Federal agencies that regulate offshore oil and gas drilling and production employ dozens of engineers and geologists using budget growth since the BP disaster,, almost ignored an environmental law enforcement department that was plagued by understaffing and a large backlog of work.
Michael Bromwich created the Ministry of Interior's security and environmental law enforcement bureau, separating the regulator from the impact of the oil and gas industry and setting up environmental law enforcement, ensure that the company operates without destroying marine life and habitat.
Bromwich received 22 full funds from Congress.
The department's time position, conducted a nationwide recruitment tour, and hired 12 environmental regulators in the agency's first and a half years.
But in the three budget years following Bromwich's departure, government records showed that only 2 of the 10 funding gaps were filled.
At the same time, the agency's budget has increased by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Since the recruitment freeze was lifted in last November, it has hired 77 new employees and employs almost every department of the agency --
In addition to the people responsible for protecting the environment.
The BSEE and its sister agency, the marine energy administration, also recently announced a bonus for the second round of oil engineers and geologists, but did not provide any incentive to environmental scientists responsible for similar oversight of environmental issues.
"I 've been away from BSEE for almost four years, so I can't cope with the various challenges that BSEE undoubtedly faces when trying to develop capabilities that didn't exist before from scratch, and bromwich is now a private consultant, asked what happened at the heart of his reform efforts, he said.
"I have been (BSEE)Director (Brian)
He has been talking about this and many other issues since Salman took over.
I am confident that he agrees with the vision of environmental law enforcement, which led to the birth of the EED, and that he and the rest of the agency will continue to work towards that goal.
But critics say internal records show a lack of attention to environmental issues.
Some say it's all part of a greater effort by the reserves of old mineral management services to restore what Obama calls a "comfortable" relationship between regulators and the oil and gas industry, and undermine the reform of Bromwich.
"Bromwich was invited to change the agency," said Cynthia Saru, executive director of the New Orleans-based environmental group Gulf Restoration Network.
"But what we see is that when reforms are introduced, old, mature institutions
The attitude of the long term agent is simple and if we wait it will go back to what it was.
"This reflects the reaction of a former Bromwich employee last year to another key component of the reform: the regulator will set up an offshore training center in Harahan.
Former training center director Chris Barry resigned on 2012 and sued BSEE in bad working conditions, claiming he was harassed by the supervisor and being told "once
Bromwich is gone, and everything will return to its original appearance.
"Sarthou staff at Gulf Restoration Network reported dozens of oil spills and other environmental violations to the United StatesS.
The Coast Guard does this every time they go to the sea to monitor oil and gas activity.
She said the lack of staff in the environmental law enforcement department responsible for issuing citations of environmental violations may explain the disturbing lack of follow-up
Witness reports from her staff.
She said she was upset about the way BSEE relied on herself
The Gulf Restoration Network is part of the coalition of environmental watchdogs that helped the Associated Press uncover huge deficiencies this spring.
Old oil spill in New Orleans
After the Associated Press investigation, the Coast Guard was forced to adjust its findings and admitted that the abandoned Taylor well leaked 20 times as much oil as the company claimed.
"They don't want anything to look too big, so they try to minimize it," Sarthou said . ".
"It requires regulators to go out and verify this and hold these people accountable. "It took WWL-
The TV station has seven months for BSEE to hand over the annual environmental compliance report submitted by environmental law enforcement staff in 2014 and 2015, and the station is still waiting for the weekly report requested in February.
The records that BSEE did produce indicate that environmental law enforcement is not low enough
Level employees keep up with basic paperwork and are downgraded to a "passive" review of documents provided to oil and gas companies --
The documents provide a description of how the company's activities affect the bay environment, rather than a "positive" independent observation by regulators.
Environmental law enforcement officers rarely go overseas, in part because of their backlog of so-
Called Post active commit.
According to BSEE spokesman Greg Julian, these reviews of oil company paperwork have basically stopped for two years after the BP disaster, and the backlog has climbed to 1,600 submissions awaiting review in 2012.
In the 2013 environmental compliance report, staff explained how active environmental compliance checks can have a more positive impact on the environmental responsibility of oil companies.
2014 The report concludes with this frustrating warning: "Sadly, in terms of improving the industry's environmental culture, delays in compliance and enforcement are almost as problematic as non-compliance or enforcement.
"But the BSEE leadership in Washington is clearly not impressed by calls from New Orleans.
The 2013 annual report describes the "communication error" between the Salerno office and the human resources staff in Washington, which makes it impossible for the environmental law enforcement division to fill 10 fully funded vacancies.
The human resources department announced the vacant positions in 2013 and received 2,500 responses.
But the report says the HR office has posted the wrong job information so that only 7 of the 2,500 candidates meet the minimum requirements and no one is considered eligible for employment.
In 2014, there is no such "misconception" when only two of the 10 vacancies are filled ".
According to the report, Margaret Schneider, deputy director of BSEE, only allowed environmental law enforcement in New Orleans to recruit two water quality experts, and none of the eight entries --
Level employees are required to process the backlog of comments.
But BSEE spokesman Julian said that the backlog of post activity submissions has been reduced without the need to hire any new environmental protection personnel.
It also fell to 900 in January 20 and 300 months, he said.
Julian defended the agency's decision not to hire more environmental scientists, saying that it had to allocate funds from Congress to environmental law enforcement not only for employee salaries, but also for equipment, research, operating expenses such as training and travel.
"BSEE continues to support a strong and effective environmental compliance and enforcement program," Julian said . ".
"All the funds allocated by Congress in this account have been and will continue to be committed to advancing the efforts of exploration, development and retirement activities in an environment-safe manner.
"But this statement seems to contradict the testimony of the BSEE Bay Area Director Lars conster at the congressional committee this month.
"Our ability to successfully complete our mission depends on recruiting and retaining qualified technical experts," he said . ".