MMS Head Fired

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MSNBC is reporting that Elizabeth Birnbaum, head of the beleaguered Minerals Management Service, has been fired. The division of the Department of Interior responsible for overseeing oil and gas development has been under fire for lax oversight of offshore drilling.

Birnbaum, a former official with the conservation group American Rivers, has run the division since last July. She faced grilling before a House panel yesterday about the agency’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

We’ll have more when it becomes available.

UPDATE: Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement saying that Birnbaum “resigned today on her own terms and on her own volition.” “Elizabeth Birnbaum is a strong and effective person and leader,” said Salazar. “She helped break through tough issues including offshore renewable development and helped us take important steps to fix a broken system. She is a good public servant.”

In her statement, Birnbaum pointed back to the Bush administration (without naming it directly) for leaving the MMS a deeply dysfunctional institution when she took over last July. She said that she hopes the reforms that Salazar has proposed for the agency “will resolve the flaws in the current system that I inherited.” Here’s her letter of resignation.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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