May 17, 2010
Top MMS official quits
With enquiries into the Deepwater Horizon casting an ever harsher light on the Minerals Management Service, the Washington Post reports that Chris Oynes, associate director for offshore energy and minerals management at the Department of the Interior has emailed colleagues telling them he will retire on May 31.
His current responsibilities include administering the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas program as well as developing and implementing the new alternative energy program in the Federal OCS.
Prior to his promotion to his present job in 2007, Mr. Oynes had served as the Regional Director of the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) Gulf of Mexico OCS Region in New Orleans for 12 years and previously as the Deputy Regional Director. According to the bio posted on the MMS website, his involvement with the agency has covered a wide range of issues. He has been actively involved in how MMS conducts its resource projections and its environmental reviews, and the operational safeguards it imposes. During his tenure in the GOM, he conducted 30 lease sales and oversaw a 50 percent rise in oil production.
MMS has received heavy criticism in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill and Mr. Oynes has been criticized for being too cosy with the industry it regulates.
His resignation comes after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced plans for a sweeping reorganization of MMS.