MMS Head Fired

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MSNBC is reporting that Elizabeth Birnbaum, head of the beleaguered Minerals Management Service, has been fired. The division of the Department of Interior responsible for overseeing oil and gas development has been under fire for lax oversight of offshore drilling.

Birnbaum, a former official with the conservation group American Rivers, has run the division since last July. She faced grilling before a House panel yesterday about the agency’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

We’ll have more when it becomes available.

UPDATE: Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement saying that Birnbaum “resigned today on her own terms and on her own volition.” “Elizabeth Birnbaum is a strong and effective person and leader,” said Salazar. “She helped break through tough issues including offshore renewable development and helped us take important steps to fix a broken system. She is a good public servant.”

In her statement, Birnbaum pointed back to the Bush administration (without naming it directly) for leaving the MMS a deeply dysfunctional institution when she took over last July. She said that she hopes the reforms that Salazar has proposed for the agency “will resolve the flaws in the current system that I inherited.” Here’s her letter of resignation.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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