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For Immediate Release, May 19, 2010

Contact: Kierán Suckling, Executive Director, (520) 275-5960

Center for Biological Diversity Response to Secretary Salazar's Splitting of Minerals Management Service

TUCSON, Ariz.In response to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement today, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling said:

“Secretary Salazar seems to have listened to critics who pointed out that his plan last week to divide the Minerals Management Service in two did nothing to address the agency’s conflict of interest because it put the environmental-permitting process in the same division with the revenue-collection process. Today’s announcement for the first time splits out the environmental-permitting program.

“It is only a baby step forward, but at least it is in the right direction.

“However, nothing in this procedural reform ensures that the Minerals Management Service will fix its substantive failures that contributed to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The secretary should order the agency to permanently cease issuance of all oil-drilling approvals under environmental waivers. He should order a halt to the issuance of drilling approvals until the agency obtains the legally required permits under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“Confidence in the Department of the Interior will not be restored until the American people start seeing real substantive reforms.”

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