"Conflicts between federal and local officials as well as the Obama administration's low estimates of the BP oil spill slowed the response to the disaster, according to one of four draft staff reports issued Wednesday by a White House commission.
'While it is not clear that this misplaced optimism (about the flow of oil) affected any individual response effort, it may have affected the scale and speed with which national resources were brought to bear,' said one of the staff reports by the the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission. 'Most responders,' the report said, thought the initial approach was 'too slow and unfocused.'"
"The White House is pushing back against the draft reports the National Oil Spill Commission released Wednesday on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that included scathing criticism of the administration's handling of the disaster. The reports' harshest criticism was directed toward the administration's handling of information about the size of the spill and the extent of the damage.
'This was an unprecedented environmental disaster met with an unprecedented federal response which prevented any of the worst-case scenarios from coming to fruition,' White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday. 'When we had information, we gave it to the public.'
He also refuted the report's claim that the Office of Management and Budget blocked another federal agency from releasing estimates about the worst-case scenario for the spill. 'No information was altered. No information was withheld. And nothing in the report had anything to do with the robust response,' said Gibbs."
"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FDA officials maintain they've provided results of ongoing Gulf seafood safety tests with the utmost transparency. But outside scientists, eager to perform independent evaluations of the government's findings, complain the information released contains far too many unknown variables that preclude peer review." Brad Jacobson reports for Raw Story October 7, 2010.
"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. history.
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 the 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 immediately respond to a request for comment."
"What are you in for?" a grizzled inmate might ask some future jailed journalist. "Building sand castles," the journalist might well reply. Police officers from the Fish & Wildlife Service and National Park Service are telling journalists they may not dig or build sand castles on public Gulf of Mexico beaches. The apparent problem: they might discover that layers of oil lie beneath beaches the feds and BP have declared clean.
Forget what they taught you in J-school; the feds say journalists are not supposed to dig. Don't believe us? Watch the video:
Reporter Dan Thomas of WEAR ABC 7 TV (Pensacola) ventured out to the Gulf Islands National Seashore September 18, 2010, toy beach shovel in hand. He quickly found layers of crude oil less than a foot below the surface -- giving the lie to BP and government claims that beaches had been cleaned.
He was quickly accosted, first by a US Fish & Wildlife agent, and then by a uniformed National Park Service police officer, and told that what he was doing was illegal. Illegal to report in a National Park without a press pass (Thomas had one). Illegal to dig in a National Park (this one was a tourist beach). Illegal to dig below 6 inches. Even illegal to build sand castles. And the officers left the impression that it might be illegal to ask why.
In fact, the feds have yet to document definitively that any of these things are illegal. They fit a larger pattern of BP and federal agents illegally restricting access to reporters trying to report on the impacts of the BP Gulf oil spill.
"What led Obama administration officials to wildly understate the size of the BP oil spill until it was all over? Was it just a series of honest mistakes? Or was science being manipulated for political purposes? An environmental whistleblower group suspects the latter, and its distrust has only grown as the U.S. Geological Survey, one of several agencies involved in assessing the flow rate, has refused to turn over relevant documents including directives from political appointees.