The federal agency that regulates offshore oil and gas drilling and production has used budget increases since the BP disaster to hire dozens of engineers and geologists, but has all but ignored an environmental enforcement division beset by understaffing and massive work backlogs.
Michael Bromwich, who created the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to separate regulators from the influence of the oil and gas industry, set up an environmental enforcement division to make sure companies operate without damaging marine life and habitat.
The BSEE has played a small roll in environmental enforcement.
The Houston-based Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations was charged by federal prosecutors in a six-count bill of information in August that alleges multiple safety violations led up to an oil and platform explosion in 2012. The bill had the same findings as a 2013 panel of experts from the BSEE and the Coast Guard