Saturday, October 9, 2010

Commission - White House Blocked Oil Spill Figures

A presidentially-appointed national commission has leveled harsh criticism at the White House over its response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout on April 20.

Particularly glaring is an allegation that the President's staff blocked release of figures concerning the volume of flow from the well located in mile-deep waters of the Gulf.

Underestimation of the the amount of crude that escaped into the environment could potentially cost the American people hundreds of billions in fines to be collected from the multinational oil company, British Petroleum, which had leased the rig from Transocean and has been blamed for the disaster due to negligent decisions made at the time.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill also leveled an allegation in one of four “working papers” released last week that the White House claim that most of the oil spilled was “gone” is just plain false.

They pointed to comments made by Mr. Obama's climate and energy czar who in a television interview mischaracterized a report and said that three-quarters of the spill had “disappeared.”

Administration officials reacted immediately, saying the response was immediate and full force.

According to NOAA head Jane Lubchenco and OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, the delay in release of the NOAA report was not an effort to hide the gravity of the situation, but an attempt to more accurately the impact of the spill on the shoreline.

“The isue was the modeling, the science and the assumptions they were using to come up with their analysis. Not public relations of presentation,” said Kenneth Baer, OMB's spokesman. “We offered NOAA suggestion of ways to improve their analysis, they happily accepted it.”

For many days, the government chose to stick by its original estimate that about 5,000 barrels of crude were escaping each day – an estimate that turned out to be about one-tenth of the true rate of flow.

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