Hastings alleges political timing behind Interior’s oil spill citations

The notices follow a September 14 Interior-U.S. Coast Guard report that detailed alleged missteps by the companies that led to the Macondo well blowout and spill, and cited evidence of regulatory violations.

A top Interior Department drilling regulator denied that the timing of the violation notices was related to the Thursday hearing, which included Interior and Coast Guard officials, and representatives from the three companies.

“I have been pushing since immediately after the issuance of the report to get these [violation notices] out as quickly as possible,” said Michael Bromwich, head of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, after testifying at the hearing.

“It has been frustrating and disappointing to me that it has taken this long,” he told reporters. “I have been pushing, pushing, pushing, sometimes several times a week to get these out as quickly as possible.”

Hastings noted that Bromwich had earlier said that he expected the citations would be issued as soon as the week after the report. That would have coincided with the initially planned date of the Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Interior-Coast Guard findings, which was slated for Friday, Sept. 23, but was subsequently delayed until Thursday.

But Bromwich told reporters that the delay stemmed from the need for multiple legal reviews and other reasons. “I regret very much that they were not ready until late yesterday,” Bromwich said Thursday.