"Ten years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Interior Department agency that regulates offshore energy development is fractious, demoralized and riddled with staff distrust toward its leadership, according to multiple accounts from current and former employees.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement was created to correct shortcomings revealed by the explosion that killed 11 men and spilled nearly 4 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The agency's leadership says it has charted a new, more aggressive course in the Trump era with greater compliance from industry and more efficient regulations. But some regulators say BSEE is gripped by a few dominant personalities and poor management, while the effectiveness of the organization falters.
With oil prices falling and operations in the Gulf evolving, they say now isn't the time to let protections slip. The stakes are too high.
"I've never seen anything this broken," said a current employee and seven-year veteran of the bureau, speaking on the condition of anonymity."