White House Kept a Lid on Oil Spill's Worst-Case Scenario, Panel Says

White House Kept a Lid on Gulf Oil Spill's Worst-Case Scenario
White House Kept a Lid on Gulf Oil Spill's Worst-Case Scenario

The White House blocked government scientists' efforts to disclose the worst-case environmental scenario related to the April 20 explosion of BP's (BP) Deepwater Horizon rig, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to examine the spill.

According to the panel's report, which included interviews with government officials, the White House Budget Office in late April or early May stopped the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from publicizing how extensive the discharge from the damaged oil well could have been. As a result, the volume of oil government officials were saying the well was releasing at the time was less than 10% of the worst-case scenario amount projected by the NOAA, though the government's response was based on the higher numbers, according to the AP.

White House officials didn't respond to a request for comment from the AP.

The April 20 explosion killed 11 workers. BP, which owns 65% of the rig, took a second-quarter charge of $32.2 billion to account for expenses relating to the explosion.