Senior U.S. scientist rescinds previous claim that 3/4 of oil from spill is gone, says most is still there
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) – A senior U.S. government scientist on Thursday admitted that three-quarters of the oil that was released into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill was still there, contradicting his earlier claim that the worst of the spill had passed, the Guardian reported.
Bill Lehr, senior scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), presented a radically different picture than the one the White House had presented to the public earlier this month. He contradicted his own reports from two weeks ago that suggested that the majority of the oil had been captured or broken down. “I would say most of that is still in the environment,” Lehr told the House energy and commerce committee.
His statement seems to all but confirm suspicions within the scientific community that the White House was trying to spin and hide scientific data regarding the damage of the oil spill. The only member of Congress who turned up at the hearing was Ed Markey, the committee chair. Lehr did, however, revise the amount of oil that spilled into the gulf, saying that only 4.1 million barrels were spilled versus the previous estimate of 4.9, noting that 800,000 barrels were siphoned directly from the well.
A number of estimates that aren’t coming from the White House suggest that as much as 90 percent of the oil is unaccounted for. Lehr himself said that only 6 percent was burned and the other 4 percent was skimmed, but he wasn’t confident on the amount collected from beaches.
Markey was visible upset and critical of Lehr, saying that the released report by NOAA gave the public a false sense of confidence. “You shouldn’t have released it until you knew it was right,” he said.
“People want to believe that everything is OK and I think this report and the way it is being discussed is giving many people a false sense of confidence regarding the state of the Gulf.”
The Obama administration’s credibility took a dive after Ian MacDonald, ocean scientist at Florida State University and has studied the Gulf of Mexico for 30 years, said that the White House made “sweeping and largely unsupported” claims by saying that three-quarters of the oil was gone. “I believe this report is misleading,” he said. “The imprint will be there in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of my life. It is not gone and it will not go away quickly.” He further went on to note the tipping point from which the ecosystem in the Gulf wouldn’t recover.
Today’s testimony and further evidence that continues to crop up within the scientific community put the White House in an uneasy situation as the November elections aren’t far off.
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