"Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon sank and oil began erupting into the Gulf of Mexico in late April, the 105-year-old Audubon magazine did something that it had never done before—it sent a blogger to cover a breaking news event in real time.
It has been known for some while that scientists have been pushed to sign non-disclosure agreements if they are involved in the BP spill "Natural Resource Damage Assessment." But there are now numerous credible reports of independent academic scientists not involved in the NRDA being told to leave public gulf waters and lands by agents of the Fish & Wildlife Service and Dept. of Homeland Security. Scientists' samples and notes are being confiscated, even when the notes do not pertain to the secret areas.
Federal agents told research scientists that they could not do independent research in public areas without approval of the "Unified Command." It was the "Unified Command" that compiled the work of federal scientists, interpreted it, and published the Obama administration's preferred conclusions without data or documentation in the now-discredited August 4 report that said 3/4 of the oil was gone. A NOAA representative yesterday refused to give a Congressional committee the data on which the Obama White House's conclusions were based.
The story was laid out in a segment produced by Annette Heist on the August 20, 2010, edition of Science Friday, with a panel including Linda Hooper-Bui of Louisiana State University A&M, Christopher D'Elia of LSU, and Cary Nelson of the American Assn. of University Professors. Audio should be available here by 6 pm ET Aug.20.
"Two new scientific reports on Tuesday raised fresh fears about the environmental fallout from the world's worst offshore oil spill and questioned government assurances that most of the oil from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico was already gone.
"With the Deepwater Horizon well capped, federal officials have turned their energies toward holding BP accountable for the environmental damage caused by hundreds of millions of gallons of oil loosed into the Gulf.
"More than three weeks after BP capped its gushing oil well, skimming operations have all but stopped and federal scientists say just a quarter of the oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico. But wildlife officials are rounding up more oiled birds than ever as fledgling birds get stuck in the residual goo and rescuers make initial visits to rookeries they had avoided disturbing during nesting season." Paul Rioux reports for the New Orleans Times-Picayune August 8, 2010.
"The EPA says that the brew of oil and dispersants still swirling in the Gulf of Mexico can be highly to moderately toxic to marine organisms at certain concentrations determined in a lab setting. The agency did not say whether those acute toxic levels are present in the open waters of the Gulf.
"Under intense pressure from President Barack Obama, BP Plc agreed on Wednesday to set up a $20 billion fund for damage claims from its huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill and suspended dividend payments to its shareholders." Jeff Mason reports for Reuters June 16, 2010.