May 17th, 2010
05:48 PM ET
11 years ago

Federal official overseeing offshore oil development to retire early

Washington (CNN) - The head of offshore drilling at an Interior Department agency criticized after the Gulf Coast oil spill is retiring a month earlier than planned, an administration official told CNN on Monday.

Chris Oynes will step down as associate director of the agency's Offshore Minerals Management Program at the end of May, the official said. The program is part of the Minerals Management Service.

"This was Chris Oynes' decision to retire after almost 35 years of public service," the official said. "Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, he approached leadership at MMS and announced he would be retiring on June 30th, and today [Monday,] he told his colleagues that he would be accelerating his retirement."

Oynes was named to the post in 2007. His responsibilities include overseeing the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas program and working on a new alternative energy program.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week announced he would split MMS into separate divisions - one for regulating offshore oil drilling and the other for collecting royalties from oil companies. Salazar said that having both responsibilities in one agency created a culture of possible corruption.

Oynes previously was the regional director of the MMS' Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf Region in New Orleans, Louisiana, for 12 years.

"His involvement with the MMS has covered a wide range of issues," according to the agency's website. "He has been actively involved in how MMS conducts its resource projections and its environmental reviews, and the operational safeguards it imposes. During his tenure in the GOM, he conducted 30 lease sales and oversaw a 50 percent rise in oil production."

Oynes has a law degree from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from California State University at Fullerton.

Filed under: Energy
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. keith in Austin

    Time for other Obama Administration incompetants to retire also. AJ Eric Holder should be next!

    May 17, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Dennis

    After 35 years on the dole of the Big Oil Companies and NOT doing his job, perhaps we should claw back some of his pension to pay for the diaster he helped cause.

    May 17, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Good riddence Mr. Oynes. Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

    May 17, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. Justin

    If he thinks early retirement will free him from possible litigation over the spill or the agency's enforcement he will be in for a surprise.

    May 17, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Pam, Eugene, OR

    Don't let the door hit you on your way out. I am sure you have made enough in kick backs to retire early and before you are fired.
    You can't make me believe the big oil companies didn't grease some palms to get relaxed regulations.

    May 17, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    This completely unacceptable tragic accident should shake the Interior Department to it's core. For such a wealthy and well established industry to allow this kind of shoddy operation, it is an embarassment to the country. We can do better than this.

    May 17, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. SocialismBad

    What a co-inky-dink! I wonder what he knows? I hope nothing happens to this guy before he can testify in front of Congress.

    May 17, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Jeff in Houston

    A Bush/Cheney appointment. I rest my case.

    May 17, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  9. They call me "tater salad"

    How convenient...........Make a quick exit before all of the corruption probes get started and expose you and the entire agency for being just another group of government officials who are on the take and cater to the highest bidder!........Oh happy day............NOT!!!

    May 17, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Mesa Mick

    If the crime against America going on in the Guld is your idea of "35 years of public service" I am for giving you a life sentence in jail not a gold watch.

    Don't let the door knob hit you in the keester on the way out Bozo...

    May 17, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    His head should probably roll, and he should NOT get any of his "golden parachute". He did a piss-poor job of managing anything other than lining hi own pockets and the pockets of Cheney/Bush/Haiburton/BP.

    May 17, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. Rowe

    "Oynes has a law degree from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science"

    Uh huh. Can we please stop appointing horse breeders to run FEMA, lawyers to oversee offshore drilling and Gulf ecosystems, and politicians to run divisions of Health and Human Services now? It's not like there is a SHORTAGE of disaster management, geological, and health care professionals in the United States. So, why don't we return to an era of professionalism in government?

    May 17, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  13. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Better give him an exit interview and watch to see if goes to work directly for the Big Oil lobby now

    May 17, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |