White House criticised over oil spill response

A commission established by United States president Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has criticised the White House response to the disaster.

Preliminary reports from the commission find the administration created the impression it was “either not fully competent” or “not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem”.

Of particular concern to the commission was confusion over the spill rate, which slowed the federal response effort immediately after the oil exploration well blew out April 20th.

The report argues, during the crucial first ten days of the oil spill, the government’s response “seemed to lag” - and coastguard officials were “overly-optimistic” in believing BP could handle the incident.

Perhaps most damagingly of all, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling found president Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (MOB) later blocked a report by government scientists that would have included a “worst-case” estimate of the rate of the spill.

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White House

In response to the allegations the White House argued officials “were clear with the public”.

President Obama was supported by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco and OMB acting director Jeffrey Zients who said confusion over the spill rate had not delayed the federal response to the disaster.

The federal effort “was full force and immediate, and the response focused on state and local plans and evolved when needed,” read a joint statement.

Deepwater Horizon

The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded on April 20th this year, killing 11 workers and injuring a further 17.

Some 4.9 million barrels of oil leaked into the surrounding Gulf of Mexico following the accident, before the well was closed.

BP has since begun a legal battle to minimise compensation payments, claiming the disasters was attributable to no single factor.