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Offshore Safety Agency’s Job Plan Faulted by Republican Lawmaker

A plan to hire inspectors and engineers by the U.S. offshore oil safety unit, created after the BP Plc spill two years ago, drew a rebuke from a Republican lawmaker.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement request for a $24.8 million increase in 2013 spending led Representative Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican and head of the subcommittee that oversees agency appropriations, today to question the plans.

“How many inspectors are enough?” Simpson asked during a hearing in Washington. “There will be no blank check coming from this subcommittee. We expect results.”

The bureau was split off in October in the revamping of the Interior Department’s oversight responsibilities following the April 2010 BP disaster that killed 11 rig workers and spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have increased the number of inspectors by 50 percent since April 2010, and the number of engineers, who also perform critical safety functions, by nearly 10 percent,” James Watson, agency director, said during the hearing. “There are still a considerable amount of positions yet to be filled, including additional inspectors, engineers, regulatory specialists, environmental specialists, and other critical disciplines.”

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