24 Jan '12, 3pm

Political leaders lowballed Gulf oil spill estimates

In the first weeks after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico, government scientists were scrambling to figure out how much oil was leaking from the well. These estimates kept being revised upwards as the scientists got more information — and then revised downwards as politicians pressured them to make sunnier predictions. Correspondence obtained by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) shows that political leaders in the White House and other government agencies pushed scientists to release lower estimates than they were comfortable with. Researchers on the U.S. Geologic Survey’s plume team used different methods for estimating the spill’s volume. One method came up with a volume of 25,000 barrels per day; all the others returned higher numbers. But the White House told the public that 25,000 barrels per day was t...

Full article: http://grist.org/list/political-leaders-lowballed-gulf-oi...

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