Salazar selects former DOI associate solicitor as MMS director

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named Liz Birnbaum, a lawyer with two decades of federal and private sector energy and environment experience, director of the US Minerals Management Service on June 25. Her appointment does not require US Senate confirmation.

The selection marks Birnbaum’s return to the US Department of the Interior, where she was associate solicitor for minerals resources from 2000 to 2001 and special assistant to DOI’s solicitor from 1999 to 2000. Most recently, she has been staff director of the US House Administration Committee since 2007. She also was counsel to the House Natural Resources Committee from 1991 to 1999.

In the private sector, she was vice president of government affairs and general counsel for American Rivers, a conservation organization, from 2001 to 2007; and counsel for the water resources program at the National Wildlife Federation from 1987 to 1991.

Birnbaum will take the helm of a DOI agency which has been a lightning rod of controversy the past few years from its handling of deepwater offshore royalties to questionable behavior by some employees in its royalties management program.

Salazar said that her experience as a former DOI associate solicitor and as staff director and counsel for two congressional committees will be valuable in Birnbaum’s new position. “Her in-depth knowledge of energy issues, natural resource policy, and environmental law as well as her managerial expertise and work in coalitions building will be especially important,” he said.

Birnbaum received her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University in 1984 and her AB degree, cum laude, from Brown University in 1979.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com 

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