The Obama Administration’s plan to split the Minerals Management Service into two agencies — one to manage leases and one to regulate safety — is good as far as it goes. If they’re really serious, they’ll put the National Transportation Safety Board, or a similar new agency, in charge of investigating rig accidents and spills.
The NTSB already investigates pipeline accidents, so they have some expertise in a related technology. They have an established culture of independence, fairness and thoroughness. And the FAA/NTSB model of regulator/investigator is a proven one that could work for the MMS.
There are a couple “investigations” of the current spill mentioned in the press. I’ll bet they don’t approach the thoroughness and professionalism of an NTSB inquiry, which can run for dozens of pages, even for nonfatal incidents.