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Can a Beltway lawyer clean up Big Oil?
Obama has chosen Michael R. Bromwich, a Washington lawyer with little energy experience, to clean up the corrupt oil-industry regulatory agency. Is he up for the job?
Can Michael Bromwich (above) clean up BP's act?
Can Michael Bromwich (above) clean up BP's act?
AP
O

bama has appointed Michael R. Bromwich, a former inspector general for the Justice Department and a Washington-based attorney to head up its overhaul of offshore drilling regulations and end "the cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency [that] was allowed to go unchecked" for a decade, according to the president's statement. Job One: Restructuring the Minerals Management Service (MMS) into "the industry's watchdog — not its partner." Can a Beltway suit who has "limited experience with the oil and gas industry" really clean up this mess? (Watch a CBS debate about Obama's energy policy revamping)

Bromwich's resume gap is a potential problem: Bromwich has a "sparkling resume," says Mike Soraghan in The New York Times, which includes helping prosecute Oliver North in the Iran-Contra investigation. But his "scarce experience" with energy or environmental issues is "[raising] eyebrows." Still, his outsider status might count as an asset for those who've chided the MMS — tainted by reports of sexual relationships between its staffers and oil company employees — of being literally "in bed" with the industry.
"Interior's new oil industry watchdog has little energy experience"

By hiring Bromwich, Obama has given this watchdog some teeth: What Bromwich lacks in industry experience, writes Jonathan Capeheart at The Washington Post, "he more than makes up for in turning around troubled organizations." His record includes cleaning up the Department of Justice and the FBI's crime laboratory, both of which were plagued by "corruption and misconduct." That's exactly what's been going on at the MMS. The president has hired a "cop. And a damned good one."
"Obama calls the cops on MMS in Oval Office speech"

But he must be given the freedom to succeed: Really, the only way Bromwich can fail is if "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar doesn't support his efforts," says Tim Fernholz at American Prospect. Bromwich's job will involve stepping on "industry's toes" and if companies are able to simply "complain up the chain of command," then little will get done. Bromwich must have, as Obama promised, "free reign to overhaul the agency and its relationship with its charges."
"How Obama's oil reformer could succeed — and why he might fail"

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SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S COVERAGE OF THE BP OIL SPILL:
BP's 8 dumbest mistakes
Punishing BP: 6 brutal proposals
BP oil spill: 9 strange facts

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