For several years the Interior Department has been pledging to set new standards for subsea devices called "blowout preventers." They're meant to seal off runaway oil wells, but the failsafe equipment failed to stop BP's blown-out Macondo well in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
The wait goes on.
On Friday the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs quietly released its Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, a twice-yearly tally of planned federal regulations.
It shows that the schedule for this long-planned draft rule to set blowout-preventer standards has apparently slipped. The latest version of the agenda lists a November 2014 target date for a draft rule that would be finalized in mid-2015. Last fall's version of the unified agenda projected the draft rule would be released in March of this year and the final version completed in November.
It's not as if Interior has ignored the need to try and ensure the industry devices are up to the task. The array of offshore-drilling safety rules issued in the wake of the 2010 BP disaster mandate testing and third-party verification of their capability.
But officials and advocates have nonetheless argued that rules setting tougher operation and design standards are also needed, and while nothing in these regulatory agendas is written in stone or even sand, Friday's updated version indicates that they're on the slow track.