Task force delays report on Gulf oil spill

A federal task force investigating the cause of last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill will delay the release of its final report.

The task force — headed up by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — was slated to release its report July 27.

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But Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the task force, said the release date has been pushed back so the task force, known as the Joint Investigation Team, could analyze all of the relevant information.

“To ensure that all evidence is properly weighed and considered, the JIT is taking additional time to finalize the report,” Angelico said in a statement. “The team is in the final stages of completing its report and expects to release it in the near future.”

Republicans and others in Congress have called on their fellow legislators to wait for the results of the report before moving forward with wide-ranging offshore drilling reforms.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), in a statement, called on the task force to “move swiftly” to issue its findings. 

“Congress and the American people expect the agencies to complete their work and tell us the facts they have discovered through the investigation,” Hastings said. “We have information from numerous other reports, but the Coast Guard and BOEMRE must move swiftly to issue their report to provide Congress and the American people with a complete picture about what happened.”

It will be the latest report on the April 20 disaster that killed 11 workers and dumped an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The national oil spill commission released its final report earlier this year.

The Interior Department has issued a suite of enhanced safety standards in light of last year’s spill. Congress, however, has been unable to send a drilling-safety bill to President Obama.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is working to pass offshore drilling safety legislation. But a vote on the bill was postponed amid a disagreement over a plan to share revenues from offshore drilling with coastal states.