[credit provider=”en.wikipedia.org” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:McNutt-video.png”]
The White House gave misleading information about the BP oil spill and pressured scientists to do the same, according to a new report from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (via Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones).PEER tracked down an email from US Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt, who said the White House repeatedly misinterpreted her data:
I cannot tell you what a nightmare the past two days have been dealing with the communications people at the White House, DOI, and the NIC who seem incapable of understanding the concept of a lower bound. The press release that went out on our results was misleading and was not reviewed by a scientist for accuracy. It was based on a brief report that Bill, Vic, and I had prepared, and the communications people “thought” that it reflected our results, but it didn’t because they don’t understand what a lower bound is.
PEER also accused NOAA scientist William Lehr, who led a team that analysed the plume flow rate, of downplaying divisions within his team
Lehr was leader of one of the most important FRTG teams, the “Plume Team” which analysed videos of the oil leaks to produce the first estimates. Three of the 13 Plume Team experts used a technique called Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) to estimate a leak rate in the range of 25,000 bpd. But three other experts on the Plume Team reported that PIV was underestimating the size of the leak by more than 50%. Those three experts used a different technology to correctly peg the leak rate at 50,000 to 60,000 bpd.
Yet Lehr did not tell the public or key decision makers that there was a deep split on the Plume Team. In the Plume Team’s Final Report, the body of which Lehr wrote, he reported that “most of the Plume Team used PIV” which produced “consistent and accurate” estimates. These underestimates were repeated to the public and media.