Deepwater-Gate: Administration Modifies Peer-Reviewed Report After it was Reviewed by Scientists

This startling news comes to us from the Institute for Energy Research:

In the days following the Gulf oil spill, President Obama requested that the Secretary of the Interior conduct a 30-day review of the offshore drilling program in the United States and issue a report with recommendations. This report was to be “peer reviewed” by a team of seven engineers recommended by the National Academy of Engineering.

The team of engineers reviewed, approved and signed off on a version of the 30-day review that was presented to them by the Administration. However, after they signed their names to this document, a significant change was made – a change that led to the 6-month suspension of deepwater exploratory drilling. Click HERE and HERE to view the section of the report that was modified after the scientists signed off on the report.

What They’re Saying About Deepwater-Gate:

“The eight panel members said they disagree with the moratorium on all exploratory drilling.” In justifying its broad moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Obama administration emphasized that the measure was recommended by an Interior Department report prepared in consultation with scientists and industry experts.The May 27 report to President Barack Obama said the experts “peer reviewed” its recommendations, including the six-month moratorium and 22 safety measures. But eight of the 15 members of the review panel are charging that the administration misrepresented their position by suggesting they supported a blanket moratorium that they actually oppose. Their criticism, and the administration’s response, are evidence that the six-month stoppage is based on politics rather than on science. (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6.11.10)

“The seven experts explained that the report draft they had reviewed did not include a six-month drilling moratorium. That was added only after they signed off.” The Obama Administration is under political pressure to reverse its ill-considered deep water drilling moratorium, and the latest blowback comes from seven angry experts from the National Academy of Engineering who say their views were distorted to justify the ban. In the wake of the oil spill, President Obama asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to produce a report on new drilling safety recommendations. Then on May 27 Mr. Obama announced a six-month deep water drilling ban, justifying it on the basis of Mr. Salazar’s report, a top recommendation of which was the moratorium. To lend an air of technical authority, the report noted: “The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” That would be false, sir. (Wall Street Journal, 6.10.10)

“A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy…” Members of a panel of experts brought in to advise the Obama administration on how to address offshore drilling safety after the Deepwater Horizon disaster now say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar falsely implied they supported a six-month drilling moratorium they actually oppose. Salazar’s May 27 report to President Barack Obama said a panel of seven experts “peer reviewed” his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. That prohibition took effect a few days later, but the angry panel members and some others who contributed to the Salazar report said they had reviewed only an earlier version of the secretary’s report that suggested a six-month moratorium only on new drilling, and then only in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6.9.10)

“[T]he experts say they never agreed to the administration’s six-month moratorium on exploratory drilling on the outer continental shelf…” A group of technical experts who advised the Obama administration on how to bolster the safety of offshore drilling operations say they oppose the administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling. Halting the work risks “harming thousand of workers” who “were and are active responsibly and are providing a product the nation demands,” they said. The eight experts – all longtime petroleum engineers, some affiliated with major universities – are listed in a report published by the Interior Department last month as having “peer reviewed” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s recommendations on improving the safety of drilling on the outer continental shelf in the wake of the April 20 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The experts said the language about the moratorium did not appear in the draft they had reviewed. (Wall Street Journal, 6.9.10)

Eight of 15 experts named in a May 27 Interior Department report on drilling safety sent a letter to Landrieu, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal insisting they did not endorse the document’s recommendation for a ban on drilling. The scientists said that recommendation was added after they reviewed the report. The experts, including Robert Bea of the University of California at Berkeley and Martin Chenevert with the University of Texas, said Salazar was using their names to justify political decisions. “We broadly agree with the detailed recommendations in the report and compliment the Department of Interior for its efforts,” the group said. “However, we do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium on floating drilling.” (Houston Chronicle, 6.9.10)

“…Interior Secretary Ken Salazar falsely implied they supported a six-month drilling moratorium they actually oppose.” Salazar’s May 27 report to President Barack Obama said a panel of seven experts “peer reviewed” his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. That prohibition took effect a few days later, but the angry panel members and some others who contributed to the Salazar report said they had only reviewed an earlier version of the Interior secretary’s report… “We broadly agree with the detailed recommendations in the report and compliment the Department of Interior for its efforts,” a joint letter from the panelists to various politicians says. “However, we do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium on floating drilling. A moratorium was added after the final review and was never agreed to by the contributors.” An Interior Department spokeswoman agreed that the experts had not given their blessing for a moratorium, and said the department did not mean to leave the impression they had. (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6.8.10)

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