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White House Suppressed Oil-Flow Estimates, Federal Commission Reports

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has released a draft report that is highly critical of the Obama administration's response to the spill.

According to NPR's Ari Shapiro, the federal commission says the White House blocked worst-case flow estimates from becoming public.

"For weeks after the oil rig exploded and sank, the White House said around 5,000 barrels a day were coming out of the well," he reports. "When independent scientists gave much higher estimates, the White House pushed back hard -- even though the higher estimates later turned out to be more accurate."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to release worst-case figures. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) didn't.

In a joint statement, NOAA and the OMB said "the facts bear out that the federal response significantly mitigated the impact of the spill."

As for the predictions about the spill flow rate, senior government officials were clear with the public what the worst-case flow rate could be: in early May, Secretary Salazar and Admiral Thad Allen told the American people that the worst case scenario could be more than 100,000 barrels a day. In addition, BP reported in 2009 that a blowout of the Deepwater Horizon (MC 252) could yield 162,000 barrels of oil a day

You can read the report after the jump.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.