Can Liz Birnbaum Clean Up the U.S. Minerals Management Service?

June 2009

Last year, the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general busted the relatively obscure U.S. Minerals Management Service office in Lakewood, where workers were accused of rigging oil contracts, accepting gifts, and consulting to the industry they were charged with regulating (via 5280). They were also accused of having sex and doing drugs with industry reps. But that was then. Now, Liz Birnbaum, an attorney with two decades of energy and environmental policy experience, is taking over, according to the Denver Business Journal. Birnbaum was appointed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who earlier this year promised a clean-up of the service that collects and disburses some $13 billion annually in revenues from federal mineral leases. Birnbaum has served as staff director of the Committee on House Administration for the past two years. Prior to that, she was general counsel and vice president of government affairs for American Rivers, a national river-conservation organization, notes The Wall Street Journal.