NOAA Recants Before Congress


When the Obama Administration allowed NOAA officials to announce that the “vast majority” of BP-spill oil was gone from the Gulf, they may as well have flown him onto an aircraft carrier and dusted off George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished!” banner. And once again, the federal government makes its “mistakes” in the headlines, and confesses its mistakes in the fine print.

Independent scientists howled at the now-disgraced NOAA report, as they have at so many BP-government talking points masquerading as science – and researchers quickly disproved the rosy impression that came as BP used the “statistics” to pack up its cleanup campaign.

A senior scientist with NOAA named Bill Lehr was sent to Washington to recant. He acknowledged at a congressional hearing Thursday (Aug. 19) that only 10 percent of the spill had been skimmed or burned off by recovery efforts – and something more like 90 percent of the discharged oil remains in the Gulf in some form. And Mr. Lehr said it would take another two months to release the data and algorithms that were used in the report. Two entire months?

I guess “Mission 10 Percent Accomplished!” isn’t much of a banner.

The heroic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the hearing, said that was unacceptable. “This report … is giving many people a false sense of confidence regarding the state of the Gulf,” Markey said. “It is important for that information right now, Dr. Lehr, to be made public. If your numbers are wrong, two months from now could be too late.”

Lehr reportedly responded: “I will do whatever I can to speed up the report.”

Might we suggest a return to whatever process was used in that “mission accomplished” report? That sure seemed to move right along.

Get your blood boiling with this excellent McClatchy report on the fiasco:

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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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