The new director of a government agency that oversees offshore drilling is creating an internal investigations team to help him improve the agency's performance. Michael Bromwich, the new head of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said the investigative team will look into allegations of misconduct and respond quickly to emerging problems. In testimony prepared for a Senate subcommittee Wednesday, Bromwich said the new unit will report directly to him and will help ensure that oil and gas companies comply with laws and regulations, as well as investigate problems within the agency itself. A copy of his testimony was obtained by The Associated Press. Bromwich, who took over Monday at the newly created ocean energy bureau, established a similar investigative team at the Justice Department when he served as its inspector general.
Is a strip club that caters to oil-rig workers entitled to a piece of the $20 billion fund for victims of the Gulf of Mexico disaster? How about a souvenir stand on a nearly empty beach? Or a far-off restaurant that normally serves Gulf seafood?
The farther the massive spill's effects spread, the harder it will get for President Barack Obama's new compensation czar to decide who deserves to be paid. Fishermen, rig workers and others left jobless by the oil spill seem certain to get their slices of the pie, sooner or later. It's the people and businesses a few degrees and perhaps hundreds of miles removed from the Gulf but still dependent on its bounty who will have a tougher time getting their claims past Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who handled payouts for families of Sept. 11 victims.
REAL ESTATE This was the year, Alicia Hollis and her fellow real estate agents thought. After a nasty batch of hurricanes and the bursting of the housing bubble, this was the year that condo sales along the Florida Panhandle's brilliant white beaches were going to rebound. Then came the oil or more accurately, the mere threat of oil. Though most of the Gulf Coast remains free of tar balls, sheen and sludge from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, owners and agents say the disaster has still stained a showcase piece of the real estate market.