May 27, 2010 11:25 AM by Melissa Canone
WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the troubled agency that oversees
offshore drilling resigned under pressure Thursday, Democratic
sources said, as President Barack Obama moved more aggressively to
take charge of the Gulf oil spill.
The departure of Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth
Birnbaum came just hours before Obama's planned White House press
conference on the oil spill, where he was expected to extend a
moratorium on new deepwater oil drilling. It was a day of
fast-moving developments in Washington and in the Gulf, where
engineers worked with some apparent success to stanch the gushing
leak five weeks into the catastrophe.
Birnbaum was out after she and her agency came under withering
criticism from lawmakers of both parties over lax oversight of
drilling and cozy ties with industry.
And after receiving the results of a 30-day safety review from
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Obama also planned to delay
controversial lease sales off the coast of Alaska and cancel
entirely plans for drilling lease sales in the Western Gulf and off
the coast of Virginia, according to a White House aide.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Obama's
midday news conference.