Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has tapped U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James A. Watson IV to be director of the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE).

Watson will assume his new post on Dec. 1, succeeding Michael R. Bromwich. Bromwich will stay on through December as counselor to Salazar to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

BSEE is one of two agencies that were created to succeed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement on Oct. 1 (see Daily GPI, Sept. 19). It is responsible for enforcing safety and environmental regulations for oil and natural gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf, including permitting and research, inspections, offshore regulatory programs, and oil spill response.

Watson currently is the Coast Guard’s director of prevention policy for marine safety, security and stewardship in Washington, DC. He served as deputy commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command in April 2010. And in June 2010 he was designated the federal on-scene coordinator for all-of-government response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BSEE’s sister agency, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), is headed by Tommy T. Beaudreau.

“Admiral Watson will bring to the job a distinguished record, a commitment to tough and fair-minded enforcement, and the determination to advance our reform agenda,” Salazar said.

“The safe and responsible production of oil and gas from our nation’s oceans is vital to our energy security. I look forward to leading the dedicated BSEE professionals to ensure each and every offshore operation is safe, secure and environmentally sound,” Watson said.

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