Independent Research Continues to Find Fault with Government Response to Spill


Heads should roll in the wake of the revelation that members of the Obama Administration blocked attempts by scientists to release worst-case estimates of how much BP oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Any outrage we feel should be compounded by the fact that even this “news” is being used to frame the argument in BP’s favor.

It’s misleading to say that the “…loss of public trust, the report suggests, left people to wonder about the safety of everything from eating seafood to swimming in the Gulf.” While that may be partly true, we should not equate specific well-founded concerns (e.g., seafood safety, long-term health impacts) with a general “loss of trust” (about everything).

That lack of trust comes from an ongoing lack of transparency in regard to everything from pollution to Kenneth Feinberg’s pay. But we don’t mistrust seafood safety because we’ve simply “lost trust,” but rather because experienced independent researchers keep finding toxins – dispersants and oil – in the seafood. We’re concerned because people who have studied this for decades are gravely concerned.

What’s maddening and truly disappointing is that we’ve “discovered” that people were lying about oil volumes and dispersant use and how much oil remains in the Gulf. Then, we turn around and believe them about seafood safety, and we let BP shutdown cleanup operations on our polluted beaches well before anything has been made right. As Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon put it: “The concern I’ve got is this continuing belief in Washington that they’ve got to protect us from ourselves, that we’re not smart enough to handle the truth, that we might all go out and hang ourselves if they give us the facts. It’s sickening.”

There’s much to say about this report, but let this be the first thing: They misled us before, and they’ll do it again. More independent research is our way to the truth about what did happen and what possibly will happen in the Gulf of Mexico.

One of the better reports is at the Press-Register, here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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