October 7, 2010

Report Critical Of Federal Oil Spill Response

An investigative team set up to look into the Obama administration's handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill found that federal officials "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 strongly-worded critiques were presented in a quartet of "working papers" released by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling on Wednesday, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the commission--only the investigators themselves.

However, according to Washington Post staff writers Steven Mufson and David A. Fahrenthold, the papers "said the administration's response was marked by confusion about the spill rate, slowing the federal effort immediately after the oil exploration well blew out April 20."

Furthermore, Mufson and Fahrenthold state that "Obama's Office of Management and Budget later delayed a report by government scientists that would have included a 'worst-case' estimate of the rate of the spill, weeks before the government revised its own official estimates upward," and that the reports also include "a harsh assessment" of claims from climate and energy czar Carol M. Browner and other members of the administration suggesting that most of the leaked crude oil was "gone."

"The report, citing interviews conducted with government officials, suspected the Coast Guard was simply relaying figures provided by BP without further documentation," the AFP added.

The White House released a statement in response to the report, asserting that senior officials--including Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who has in charge of the administration's clean-up efforts--had said as early on as May that more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day could be leaking in a worst-case scenario. In a statement, White House officials said that the federal response was "full force and immediate"¦ and evolved when needed."

The oil spill, which started following the April 20 explosion on board the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig and its sinking two days later, leaked more than 200 million gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico waters. The well was finally permanently sealed in late September, putting an end to what many have called the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history.

The final report of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling is expected to be issued on January 11, 2011, the committee said on their official website.


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