Tommy Beaudreau

Former BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau meets with community leaders in Alaska during a federal panel about the Interior Department's review of the 2012 Arctic exploration season, February 4, 2012. BOEM photo

Biden to Nominate Veteran Offshore Drilling Regulator as Deputy Interior Secretary

Mike Schuler
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April 14, 2021

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy (Bloomberg) —

Tommy Beaudreau, a veteran of the Interior Department who charted new restrictions for Arctic oil drilling under former President Barack Obama, is being tapped to return to the agency as its No. 2 official.

President Joe Biden is slated to nominate Beaudreau to be the deputy Interior secretary, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named before a formal announcement expected later this week.

Beaudreau, a lawyer, rose to prominence for his role amid the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, when he was responsible for helping to turn around the Interior Department’s oversight of offshore oil development.

As the first director of Interior’s then-newly created Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, he spearheaded reforms in offshore oil and gas leasing and propelled efforts to advance the development of wind farms along the nation’s coastlines.

He also led a review of Shell Oil Co.’s mishap-plagued 2012 Arctic drilling program after its rig ran aground off the Alaska coast.

In other roles at the Interior Department, Beaudreau served as chief of staff and as the acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management. If confirmed, he would join a number of Obama-administration Interior veterans in leadership roles at the department.

Interior Department representatives declined to comment on the matter. The planned appointment was reported earlier by E&E News.

Beaudreau has deep ties to energy and to Alaska, where he lived as a child. His father worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline before shifting to the defense sector. Beaudreau has emphasized how his experience fishing, hunting and growing up against the backdrop of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains shaped his commitment to land preservation.

Beaudreau has most recently been a partner in the Washington office of the law firm Latham & Watkins, focusing on environmental policy, natural resources and renewable energy.

Some environmental activists have warned against Beaudreau’s appointment, casting him as an enabler of offshore oil drilling in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and sent oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.

“After the worst offshore spill in history, Beaudreau looked the other way as offshore fracking ramped up rather than working to prevent the next oil disaster,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The administration had planned to nominate Elizabeth Klein to be deputy secretary but did not formally submit her nomination to the Senate after concerns were raised by several Republicans, including Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Klein, who previously supported efforts to challenge Trump-era environmental rules at New York University’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, is now a senior adviser at Interior.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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