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Minerals Management head fired

From NBC's Mike Viqueira
The director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service, Elizabeth Birnbaum, has been fired, the White House confirms.

The MMS, an agency within the Department of the Interior, oversees regulation of the oil industry. It has been accused of having an all-too-cozy relationship with the industry it was supposed to regulate.

*** UPDATE *** NBC's Shawna Thomas reports that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Birnbaum resigned.

"She did it on her own terms and own volition," Salazar said, adding that she was a "strong and very effective person. ... She is a good public servant."

*** UPDATE 2 *** NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports that just fired or "resigned" MMS chief Elizabeth Birnbaum was scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill again today. The House Appropriations Committe was notifed before 10:00 am ET  that the Department of Interior requested a change of witnesses so that Deputy Secretary David Hays could testify in Birnbaum's place.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Here are statement from Salazar and Birnbaum.


"Elizabeth Birnbaum is a strong and effective person and leader. 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. She resigned today on her own terms and on her own volition. I thank her for her service and wish her the very best."

Birnbaum said:

"I'm grateful to the President and to the Secretary for allowing me to serve this Administration and the country. It's been a great privilege to serve as Director of the MMS. I have enormous admiration for the men and women of the MMS who do a difficult job under challenging circumstances. I'm hopeful that the reforms that the Secretary and the Administration are undertaking will resolve the flaws in the current system that I inherited."