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May 27, 2010 12:06 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

First head rolls in Washington over oil spill

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the head of the troubled agency that oversees offshore drilling has resigned.

Salazar announced the news Thursday at a congressional hearing where Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum was scheduled to testify. She did not appear.

Birnbaum and her agency have endured scathing criticism in the weeks since the Gulf oil spill over alleged lax oversight of drilling and what President Barack Obama has called an overly cozy relationship with industry.

Salazar said that Birnbaum resigned on her own terms and of her own volition. Her departure came just hours before a news conference where Obama plans to address the spill and announce new safety protocols and an extension of a deepwater drilling moratorium.

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