Rear Admiral James Watson to Head New BSEE, Bromwich Out

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November 14, 2011

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The Obama administration has found a replacement for offshore drilling safety chief Michael Bromwich, a highly polarizing figure who revamped the government’s offshore oil office in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Interior Department said Monday Rear Admiral James Watson of the U.S. Coast Guard will assume leadership of the department’s newly created Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

In that role, Watson will oversee offshore drilling regulations and permit approvals, both of which have become the target of much criticism from the oil and gas industry in recent months.

Watson served as a coordinator for the government’s response to the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. He will assume control of the bureau in December.

The Obama administration struggled to find a leader for the offshore safety bureau, in large part because qualified candidates did not want to shoulder the political spotlight that will most likely accompany the position.

Bromwich will leave the Interior Department at the end of the year.

-By Tennille Tracy, Dow Jones Newswires

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