Last-minute White House editing led to false implications in spill report
Last-minute editing by the White House of a Department of the Interior report on the Gulf oil spill led to the false implication that the report’s recommendation of a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling had been peer reviewed by scientists and industry experts, an inspector general report said on Monday.
The report, obtained by Politico, said scientists and industry experts “had neither reviewed nor supported such a policy decision and had never been asked to do so.”
Interior Department officials told the department’s inspector general that they never intended to give that impression in their version of the report. But a White House edit of the executive summary of the report, by staffers in White House climate and energy policy director Carol Browner’s office, “led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed by the experts,” the report said.
????Here is the text in question, from the executive summary of the report:
The Secretary further recommends an immediate halt to drilling operations on the 33 permitted wells, not including the relief wells currently being drilling by BP, that are currently being drilling using floating rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling operations should cease as soon as safely practicable for a 6-month period.
The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering. Those experts, who volunteered their time and expertise, are identified in Appendix 1. The government also consulted with a wide range of experts from government, academia and industry.
An Interior Department official who worked on the report, Steve Black, told the inspector general that the executive summary was not intentionally unclear, and he stressed that the recommendations that came later in the report were peer reviewed, though the moratorium recommendation was not.
The inspector general report was requested by a number of Republicans, including Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who opposed the drilling moratorium.