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Gibbs Criticizes Spill Commission Reports

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco will send a letter today to the national oil spill commission responding to many of the accusations in a series of reports released by the commission yesterday.

One of the draft reports released by the commission yesterday said that the White House Office of Management and Budget denied a request by NOAA scientists to release worst-case flow-rate data. The White House has vehemently denied that claim, arguing that OMB sent back to NOAA a report on the spill because it didn’t adequately take into account a number of key factors. Gibbs stressed today that OMB never rejected the report and said it was not a flow-rate report.

“None of the scientific data was changed whatsoever,” Gibbs said, saying that the report, after it included information requested by OMB, was released.

Pressed by reporters about the commission’s report, Gibbs largely downplayed the findings, noting that it is just a draft and adding that the White House had some concerns about the accuracy of the reports.

Asked if the administration acknowledges any of the criticism in the report, Gibbs said, “There isn’t anybody in this building or anybody who worked on this that would say we did everything perfectly.” But he stressed that the administration mounted a “robust” response to an “unprecedented” disaster. The administration’s response, Gibbs said, “Prevented any of the worst-case scenarios from coming to fruition.”

Gibbs also said that White House climate and energy adviser Carol Browner misspoke “once” on television when explaining the administration’s much-criticized “Oil Budget” report. But the report clearly shows that Browner consistently mischaracterized the report.

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