Salazar Names New Boss at MMS

Interior Secretary Taps Hill Veteran Liz Birnbaum

Will boss agency with primary Cape Wind responsibility

by Dick Farley
cct Washington Correspondent

Washington, DC -- June 25, 2009 -- The federal agency with primary responsibility for permitting the Cape Wind offshore wind power installation proposed to serve  the Cape and Islands has a new boss.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today appointed Liz Birnbaum, a Harvard Law grad with two decades of Capitol Hill and Washington advocacy experience, as the new director of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS).

According to a press release from MMS an hour ago, since 2007 Birnbaum has served as staff director of the Committee on House Administration in the U. S. House of Representatives, overseeing the committee that manages legislative branch agencies.

According to MMS Deputy Director Walter Cruickshank, in an interviewwith Cape Cod Today this afternoon, the Cape Wind permit is onlyawaiting resolution of historical preservation issues and a waiver fromthe Environmental Protection Agency  before Secretary Salazar couldissue his agency's "Record of Decision" green lighting the project.

Previous to her House apppointment, Birnbaum was vice president (government affairs) and general counsel for American Rivers, "where she directed advocacy programs for the nation's leading river conservation organization from 2001 to 2007," according to the MMS press statement.

Her appointment today, which does not require Senate confirmation, marks her return to Interior, where from 2000 to 2001 she was associate solicitor for minerals resources, managing staff lawyers providing legal advice and developing regulations for MMS, the Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation.

Interest in MMS is intense on the Cape and Islands as the eight-year battle over Cape Wind's proposal to construct its proposed offshore wind farm is in what its developers and advocates hope is its final stage in the approval process.

According to MMS Deputy Director Walter Cruickshank, in an interview with Cape Cod Today this afternoon, the Cape Wind permit is only awaiting resolution of historical preservation issues and a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency  before Secretary Salazar could issue his agency's "Record of Decision" green lighting the project.

Cruickshank has been serving as acting director of MMS pending today's appointment of a new director, but has been involved in its management of the Cape Wind consideration process since MMS was given primary jurisdiction by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

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