Head of US Minerals Management Service resigns following BP oil spill response

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Logo of the Minerals Management Service
Image: Minerals Management Service.

After reports that US President Barack Obama has fired the director of the Minerals Management Service, Elizabeth "Liz" Birnbaum, the Interior Department revealed that she instead resigned "on her own volition". The resignation occurred amidst growing criticism of the federal government's response to the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and the agency's oversight over offshore drilling. 

Birnbaum, who became director in June 2009, was expected to testify before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives today with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. She was not present when Salazar began to speak, however. Salazar said in a statement: "She is a good public servant. She resigned today on her own terms and on her own volition. I thank her for her service and wish her the very best."

News agencies had reported that Birnbaum was forced out of office, and Obama was expected to officially announce the supposed firing later today in a news conference along with discussing an Interior Department report on the explosion. Birnbaum observed in her letter of resignation that Salazar "will be requiring three new leaders for the Office Natural Resources Revenue, the Bureau of Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement" as the entire Minerals Management Service is reorganized.

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