Interior Secretary Ken Salazar provided new details Wednesday about his plan to break up the Minerals Management Service, saying three new agencies would divide the duties of leasing offshore parcels for energy projects, policing safety rules and collecting royalties.

“These three missions are conflicting missions and must be separated,” Salazar said, adding that subordinates were given 30 days to work out a schedule for the split.

Today is the one-month anniversary of the explosion at the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which has led to a huge oil spill that neither the federal government nor BP has been able to stop.

The Minerals Management Service had been criticized for its coziness with the energy industry, which provides royalty money that partially funds it. Last week, Salazar said the service would be divided into two parts: one to handle leasing and royalty collection, another to enforce safety and environmental rules. On Wednesday, Salazar said there would be three new agencies.

About 700 of the agency’s 1,700 employees would be shifted to the new Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which would take over the job of collecting royalties from energy projects on federal land and the ocean floor. Those royalties, from energy projects both on and offshore, come to about $13 billion per year.

About another 700 employees would go to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which would oversee the leasing of parcels of the ocean floor for oil or gas rigs, and renewable energy projects like wind farms.

And 300 employees would go to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which “will be the police of offshore oil and gas operations,” according to Salazar.

A spokeswoman for Salazar said it was unclear if the funds for this bureau would continue to come from royalties.

Also Wednesday, a BP official said the company was now capturing 3,000 barrels of oil per day, up from 2,000, by using a tube inserted into the leaking “riser” pipe on the gulf floor. But the official said it might be early next week before they attempt to plug the gushing well with an injection of heavy “kill mud.” Salazar had previously said that might happen Saturday.

In Louisiana on Wednesday, more oil infiltrated the grassy marshes at the tip of the Mississippi delta, despite efforts to increase the flow of the river and beat back the approaching slick.


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