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Ken Salazar's task: make sure BP oil spill isn't Obama's Katrina

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testifies about lapses in oversight of Gulf drilling that led to BP oil spill. But he also says the Obama administration is taking steps to avoid another spill.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testifies Tuesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on issues related to offshore oil and gas exploration, including the accident involving the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today is making his first appearances before Congress since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil blowout disaster. His job is a tough one: be contrite about any US regulatory mistakes related to the oil spill, but not so contrite that he makes the Obama administration appear ineffective.

That is a delicate balance to strike, and in the early going Salazar – a former senator from Colorado – did his best to strike it. He admitted, for instance, that a few “bad apples” in his department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) may have been lax in their oversight of industry, but that most MMS employees are capable public servants. And he appealed to former colleagues for forbearance.

“People can come together here instead of playing the blame game,” he said in an appearance before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We can make sure it never happens again, and I look forward to working with you on that.”

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