"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a directive Wednesday to split the troubled Minerals Management Service into three branches, as BP prepared to launch its latest effort to plug the month-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. ...
The Interior Department order expands on Salazar's announcement last week that he would break up the Minerals Management Service, which has been criticized for its lax oversight of drilling operations and the oil industry.
To reduce the potential for conflicts of interest, the agency will now have three arms: one to lease federal lands and the Outer Continental Shelf for oil, gas and renewable energy development; one to enforce environmental and safety regulations; and one to collect royalties owed to the government.
Congressional hearings on the Deepwater Horizon disaster continued Wednesday as BP and Transocean executives returned to Capitol Hill. At a far-ranging House committee hearing, Transocean drew scrutiny for registering the drilling rig under the flag of the Marshall Islands, a step that critics said subjected it to less rigorous safety rules than a U.S.-flagged ship."