White House rejects oil spill report

The White House has rejected a preliminary report into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which accuses the government of hiding worst-case estimates on the disaster.

President Barack Obama’s aides have pushed back against a strongly worded report written by staff researchers and presented to a national commission into the causes and impact of the spill spawned by a rig explosion in April.

The report found that the administration did not keep the public fully up to date on its own worst-case estimates of the amount of oil churning out of the ruptured BP well and also underestimated the actual flow rate early on.

But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted the administration was “as candid as we could be with the information that we had, when we had it.”

The report, which Mr Gibbs pointed out will not necessarily reflect the final view of the commission, also found that low early estimates of the amount of oil flowing from the ruptured undersea well “undermined public confidence.”

“The federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem,” it said.

But Mr Gibbs insisted that the administration had never sought to cover up the true extent of the spill, arguing that such a disaster had never happened before, and techniques to measure the flow rate were developed on the fly.

“There was nothing that we knew about flow rates from here that we didn’t make public,” he said.

“There was never an effort to not put out the most accurate and timely information as soon as we had it. We got different estimates based on different technology and the availability of more enhanced photography.”

The report also said that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked the Office of Management and Budget for permission to unveil its worst-case estimates of the disaster, but was refused.

– AFP

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