NOAA Scientist: Gulf Oil Spill Report Was Not Peer Reviewed

Met with much skepticism nationwide, the White House touted a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report out the first week of August stating nearly three-quarters of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico by BP had been cleaned up or dispersed.

One NOAA scientist told Congressional investigators yesterday that the White House released the report — not NOAA — and the report was not peer reviewed as the administration claimed.

According to a release by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a NOAA scientist, Dr. Bill Lehr, yesterday told a group of Congressional staff investigators on a conference call that a NOAA report claiming that nearly three-quarters of the oil from the Gulf oil spill has already been addressed was released by White House officials and not scientists at NOAA.  The NOAA scientist told congressional investigators that the data backing up the assertions made in the report is still unavailable and that peer review of the report is still not complete.  Officials at an August 4 White House press briefing had said that the report had been thoroughly peer reviewed.

“This is yet another in a long line of examples where the White House’s pre-occupation with the public relations of the oil spill has superseded the realities on the ground.  It is deeply troubling that White House officials apparently preempted the completion and review of a scientific study on the oil spill by NOAA scientists in order to tout conclusions that many experts believe may be deeply flawed,” Issa said.

On August 4, White House officials announced nearly 70 percent of the oil spilled into the Gulf had dissolved naturally, or was burned, skimmed, dispersed or captured.

“This irresponsible action only adds to the perception that the Obama White House is more concerned about appearing competent than actually making sure the massive oil spill in the Gulf gets cleaned-up as quickly as possible.  I will certainly be demanding the White House name those responsible for releasing this report, why it was released before it was complete, and whether its controversial conclusions have led to changes in Gulf clean-up efforts,” Issa added.