Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

White House Altered Offshore Drilling Safety Report

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I was one of many who took the Bush Regime to task for manipulating science reports in an overtly political manner in order to push their pre-conceived agenda.

I would therefore be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that the Obama administration altered an offshore drilling safety report in a manner that made it “falsely appear that scientists and experts supported the administration’s six-month ban on new deep-water drilling.”

The inspector general said the editing changes by the White House resulted “in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed.” But it hadn’t been. Outside scientists were asked only to review new safety measures for offshore drilling.

Last month, staff for the presidential oil spill commission said that the White House’s budget office delayed publication of a scientific report that forecast how much oil could reach the Gulf’s shores. Federal scientists initially used a volume of oil that did not account for the administration’s various cleanup efforts, but the government ultimately cited smaller amounts of oil.

The same report said that President Barack Obama’s energy adviser, Carol Browner, mischaracterized on national TV a government analysis about where the oil went, saying it showed most of the oil was “gone.” The report said it could still be there. It also said that Browner and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenco, contributed to the public’s perception the report was more exact than it was by emphasizing peer review.

The good news:

After one of the reviewers complained, the Interior Department promptly issued an apology during a conference call, in a formal letter and during a personal meeting in June.

Let me go on the record as saying that any attempt, purposeful or not, to illicit a greater sense of acceptance of what the administration was saying in part due to scientists’ signing off on statements or positions is inappropriate.  I am glad to hear that apologies and corrections were made.  I certainly hope incidents like this don’t happen in the future.  Obama ran on a platform of listening to what scientists had to say and using their expert voice to support crafting policies.  Policies shouldn’t be pursued while stretching, contorting or manipulating that scientific advice.

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