Published in The Hill
BY TIMOTHY CAMA – 05/22/17 10:48 AM EDT
The Trump administration has tapped a former Louisiana utility regulator to lead the agency responsible for offshore oil and natural gas drilling safety.
Scott Angelle, most recently vice chairman of Louisiana’s Public Service Commission, is now the head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the agency said Monday.
Scott Angelle brings a wealth of experience to BSEE, having spent many years working for the safe and efficient energy production of both Louisiana’s and our country’s offshore resources,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.“
As we set our path towards energy dominance, I am confident that Scott has the expertise, vision, and the leadership necessary to effectively enhance our program, and to promote the safe and environmentally responsible exploration, development, and production of our country’s offshore oil and gas resources.”Zinke has the power to appoint Angelle without Senate confirmation.
“It is an exciting and challenging time for BSEE; I look forward to leading our efforts to empower the offshore oil and gas industry while ensuring safe and environmentally responsible operations,” Angelle said in the statement.
Angelle, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully last year for a House seat in Louisiana’s third congressional district, in the southwestern corner of the state. He lost in the runoff to Clay Higgins, also a Republican. He also ran for governor in 2015, losing the primary narrowly to then-Sen. David Vitter.
For a brief time in 2010, Angelle was Louisiana’s lieutenant governor under Gov. Bobby Jindal. He led a rally in July 2010 against the offshore drilling moratorium instituted by then-President Barack Obama in the wake of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, while oil was still spilling uncontrolled in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He was secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources for eight years, during which time the state overhauled its permitting system for coastal use. Drillers must get such permits for pipelines or other infrastructure that passes the coast.
BSEE was created after the Deepwater Horizon disaster after numerous reports concluded that the former Minerals Management Service had a conflict of interest as the single agency in charge of offshore leasing, safety regulation, and revenue collection.
Zinke is considering changes to the structure of Interior’s agencies, including potentially reuniting BSEE with the Bureauof Ocean Energy Management, the office responsible for offshore leasing after the BP disaster.
The Gulf of Mexico, which Louisiana borders, is the epicenter of the country’s offshore oil and gas industry. Louisiana hosts much of the support facilities for the industry, is home to many of its employees and shares some of the revenue with the federal government from the oil and natural gas production.