Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, slammed Obama administration officials today for releasing last week what he sees as an inadequate report on oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
The first part of his August-recess hearing focused on the so-called “oil budget” report released by the Obama administration last week. The report found thatnearly 75 percent of the oil spilled into the Gulf had been captured, was mitigated with dispersants or evaporated naturally.
Markey — who was the only lawmaker who showed up for the hearing — said, “I think this report and the way it’s being discussed is giving people a false sense of confidence.” Markey also criticized the Obama administration for releasing the report without being transparent about the methodology used and before it was peer reviewed.
Bill Lehr, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, defended the release of the report, arguing that it was important to quickly release the report. “This was an oil spill emergency, not an oil spill experiment,” he said.
Lehr said the full peer reviewed report, including the technical documentation of the methodologies used, will be released in two months. “I assure you it will bore everybody except those of us that do oil spill science,” he said, adding that he would speed up the release of the full report as much as possible.
But Markey railed against the decision to release the report early, arguing that the report gave a false impression of the state of the Gulf. “That is to me unacceptable. We need to have that information. The report that you released last week received international attention. There are many people that are making decisions based on that report,” he said.
Markey continued: “You shouldn’t have released it until you knew it was right because so much is dependent on that release.”
Others have also taken issue with the report, including marine scientistsat the University of Georgia.