BP Oil Spill: White House Not Candid On Amount Or Fate Of The Oil

According to a commission appointed by the Obama administration, the White House blocked efforts by independent scientists to give an accurate estimate on how bad the oil spill really was in terms of the amount of oil released in the Gulf of Mexico, and on how much of the oil is actually “gone”.

In a report released today, the National Commission On The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill & Offshore Drilling noted that “the federal government’s estimates of the amount of oil flowing into and later remaining in the Gulf of Mexico were the source of significant controversy, which undermined public confidence in the federal government’s response to the spill.”

According to the commission, put in place by the Obama administration, the White House, by underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, by underestimating the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the Obama administration created the impression that it was “either not fully competent or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.” Further, the reports notes that “the absence of trust fuels public fears, and those fears in turn can cause major harm.”

Beside the controversy of the oil flow, the other main point of the report concerns the “fate of the oil”. The commission looked into whether statements made by the Obama administration on August 4, 2010 (once the well was finally capped) that the “oil was gone” were misleading.

On August 4,2010, Carol Browner, the Director of the White House Office of Energy & Climate Change Policy, made a few press statements concerning the “fate of the oil”.

“I think it is also important to note that our scientists have done an initial assessment, and more than 75 percent of the oil is gone. The vast majority of the oil is gone. The scientists are telling us about 25 percent only is not captured, evaporated or taken care of by mother nature,” said Browner.

However, the Oil Budget Team’s findings did not support the claim that 75 percent of the oil was “gone”. The 75 percent not in the remaining category included “dissolved” and “dispersed” oil, which was potentially being biodegraded but was not “gone”.

The report from the commission says that more importantly, the oil budget was not designed to explain the “fate of the oil”, but that its purpose was to tell responders how much oil was present for clean up operations, not to tell the public how much oil was still in the Gulf waters.

Further, as far as the “bio-degradation” of the oil, nothing was defined scientifically despite the fuzzy claims of the White House. Several White House officials repeated around August 4, 2010 that “the oil is biodegrading quickly”. But because the oil budget did not provide sources or data to support this claim or define “quickly”, this comment from Browner increased rather than address public confusion over whether and how the oil budget demonstrated that “most of the oil was gone”.

The report from the commission is shinning a harsh light on how the Obama administration handled the oil spill. By first knowingly and grossly minimizing the amount of the oil flowing into  the Gulf of Mexico, and later by spinning the facts to make the American public believe that 75 percent of the oil was miraculously “gone”.

To read the report from the Commission on the BP oil spill click here.


4 Responses to BP Oil Spill: White House Not Candid On Amount Or Fate Of The Oil

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  3. xxl maroc October 7, 2010 at 5:46 am

    First of all, IT IS NOT THE RESPOSIBILTY of the government to cap an oil well. That is the responsibility of the oil company. The Obama administration had to take over because BP FAILED in it’s responsibilities. The Obama administration did an EXCELLENT job coming up with solutions to problems that no government had to face before. AND THEY SUCCESSFULLY SOLVED the problem. Did the panel mention that? If so, it did not make the headlines.

  4. too October 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I have in my area, a real estate guy with the last name of ‘Vague.’ In my mind I can’t help wondering what a price discussion would be like with him. So turning an unfortunate sounding birth rite into an asset is acceptable.

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