The administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote to the chairs of the Oil Spill Commission today to "alert" them as to a "mischaracterization" of a NOAA document in a commission staff working paper, the release of which Wednesday subjected the White House to much criticism of its response to the oil spill.
NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco said she wanted to "set the record straight" as to the description in the paper that: "The Commission staff has also been advised that, in late April or early May 2010, NOAA wanted to make public some of its long-term, worst-case discharge models for the Deepwater Horizon spill, and requested approval to do so from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Staff was told that the Office of Management and Budget denied NOAA’s request."
Lubchenco said that since NOAA "wanted to share the outcome of these models with the public, and so prepared a short description of the models and outcomes and submitted the document through OMB's interagency clearance process." OMB required more work, though. "Contrary to suggestions in the Draft Staff Working Paper, the document was cleared and released to the public."
In addition, asserted Lubchenco, the paper in question was studying long-term movement of the oil, not flow rate. And though the draft paper "suggests that the early low flow rate estimates might have hampered the federal response,” she said, “[t]his was not the case. Two goals of the worst-case scenario modeling were to inform the Unified Command's understanding about possible scenarios and aid the response effort, both of which happened.”
You can read her letter HERE.
- Jake Tapper