Friday, October 08, 2010

Was Obama’s Oil Spill Response ‘Not Fully Competent’ or ‘Not Fully Candid’?

On August 4, Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox News morning shows to declare Mission Accomplished on handling the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Specifically, she told the Today show: “I think it’s also important to note that our scientists have done an initial assessment and more than three-quarters of the oil is gone, the vast majority of the oil is gone.” Now it appears that Browner spoke too soon and, even worse, suppressed criticism of the Obama administration’s assessment of the spill. When scientists from the University of South Florida (USF) had the audacity to question the Obama administration’s “science,” the White House pushed back hard. William Hogarth, dean of marine sciences at USF, told the St. Petersburg Times that administration officials pressured him to retract USF’s public announcement, and he compared it to being “beat up” by federal officials. University of Southern Mississippi oceanographer Vernon Asper also drew Obama administration ire: “We expected that NOAA would be very pleased. NOAA instead responded by trying to discredit us.” Yesterday, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling issued four preliminary working papers on the Obama administration’s response to the oil spill. Their paper titled The Amount and Fate of the Oil reads:
By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.

The Foundry

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