Panel: White House Blocked Worst-Case Gulf Spill Figures

Findings slam government's handling of Deepwater Horizon disaster
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2010 1:20 AM CDT
Oil is seen near the Louisiana coast after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Newser) – The White House's response to the Gulf oil spill was sluggish and flawed by "a sense of over-optimism," according to a presidential panel investigating the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The panel discovered that the White House budget office rejected a request from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists for permission to release the organization's worst-case scenario models, AP reports. A government spokesman insists the budget office was concerned about the reliability of the NOAA model.

"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 report states. The administration disputes the panel's findings, arguing that government officials "were clear with the public what the worst-case flow rate could be."

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