Did PR Beat Out Science in the Obama Oil Spill Report?
Friday, January 28, 2011
A Democratic congressman and a government watchdog group have accused the Obama White House of placing a higher importance on public relations than on scientific opinion during last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Reacting to a government report issued last August about the oil spill, Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) accused the administration of overruling federal “experts’ advice in favor of report language that oversimplified scientific issues for public consumption.”
Grijalva also drew attention to emails obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) that showed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was not happy with the White House’s and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s characterization of how much oil was dispersed using chemicals.
The EPA claimed the estimate was “very rough and should not be considered accurate.” But NOAA insisted on putting it into the report as part of the communications strategy being formed by the White House to show how well it was responding to the crisis.
“It’s extremely troubling that the White House may have suppressed sound scientific recommendations in order to massage its message to the public,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. “The enormous consequences of the oil spill should not be oversimplified—the public expects a scientifically credible explanation of what happened in the Gulf.”
Although scientists had estimated that the size of the spill was between 3 and 5 million barrels, the White House insisted that the report use the exact figure of 4.9 million which, at least, was a high-side estimate.
Congressman Accuses White House Of Putting Spin Above Science (by Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post)
Watchdog: Admin Ignored Scientists' Spill Report Recommendations (by Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones)
Obama’s BP Oil Spill Report Favored Public Relations Over Scientific Concerns (Project on Government Oversight)
BP Refuses to Allow Scientists to Test Oil Spill Samples (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Are BP and Obama Hiding Size of Gulf Oil Spill To Lessen Lawsuit Damages? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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