Interior creates revenue office for drilling

The Interior Department has created a new agency to collect billions of dollars in royalties for onshore and offshore drilling.

The new Office of Natural Resources Revenue, created Friday, is separate from the agency that oversees offshore drilling and regulates leasing. That agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, replaced the former Minerals Management Service last summer amid criticism of lax oversight in the wake of the BP oil spill.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said taxpayers will be better protected by a collection agency that is no longer linked to drilling oversight.

Greg Gould, a longtime Interior official, will head the 600-employee agency. Interior collected $10.6 billion last year from leasing activities on federal land and offshore.