Politico Pro: Bromwich counters op-ed critical of Gulf spill response

April 17, 2014

Former top Obama administration offshore drilling enforcer Michael Bromwich said a New York Times op-ed co-written by his predecessor doesn’t give enough credit to the administration for reforms enacted in the four years since BP’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“In making their case that not enough has been done to promote safety and environmental protection, the authors give short shrift to the enormous strides that were made in the immediate aftermath of the oil spill,” Bromwich said in a statement to POLITICO.

He notes that two rules were implemented “that have undeniably made offshore drilling safer than ever before,” and a major reorganization that was barely mentioned in the op-ed eliminated conflicts of interest “that plagued offshore drilling oversight for years.”

“Yes, there is always the risk of another offshore blowout, although that risk has been substantially reduced,” Bromwich added. “And, yes, the government could have moved faster and more forcefully in the last couple of years in implementing the many recommendations made by various organizations, especially on blowout preventers. But to suggest that things are largely unchanged from the time of Deepwater Horizon is neither fair nor accurate.”

The op-ed was co-written by Elizabeth Birnbaum, who headed the Minerals Management Service when the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred. She resigned that May after less than a year on the job.

Bromwich replaced Birnbaum in June 2010 when he was named the first director of the newly formed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. BOEMRE was later split up into three separate bureaus.

— Darren Goode