That the Associated Press is reporting it: Washington — The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf Oil Spill could have been, according to a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the worst Offshore Oil Spill in U.S.
In documents released Wednesday, the national Oil Spill commission’s staff reveals that in late April or early May the White House Budget office denied a request from he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make public the worst-case discharge from the blown-out well.
The Unified Command — the government team in charge of the spill response — also was discussing the possibility of making the numbers public, the report says, citing interviews with government officials.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
BP’s drilling permit for the Macondo well originally estimated the worst scenario to be a leak of 6.8 million gallons per day. In late April, the Coast Guard and NOAA received an updated estimate of 2.7 million to 4.6 million gallons per day.
While those figures were used as the basis for the government’s response to the spill — they appeared on an internal Coast Guard Situation report and on a dry-erase board in NOAA’s Seattle war room — the public was never told.
In the meantime, government officials were telling the public that the well was releasing 210,000 gallons per day — a figure that would be later adjusted to be much closer to the worst-case estimates.
“Despite the fact that the Unified Command had this information, relied on it for operations, and publicly states that it was operating under a worst-case scenario, the government never disclosed what its…scenario was,” the report says