Gulf Oil Spill Claims First Obama Administration Official

By Cullen Dirner

May 17, 2010 5:50pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller and Karen Travers report:

Chris Oynes, the Interior Department official in charge of overseeing offshore oil and gas drilling for the Minerals Management Service, will step down in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

An administration official confirms Oynes will leave his position as Associate Director for Offshore Energy and Minerals Management at the MMS on May 31, but notes that he is “retiring” from the post.

The Washington Post was the first to report Oynes resignation.

The MMS has come under fire since the oil spill happened in the Gulf earlier this month.

Last Friday Obama expressed his “anger and frustration” over the oil spill and said that whatever happened to cause it, “it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly.”

Obama ordered Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to conduct a “top-to-bottom reform” of the MMS and admonished it for its close ties to the oil industry.

“For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill,” the president said last Friday. “It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore.”

- Sunlen Miller and Karen Travers

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