The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.
In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.
“The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,” the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.
The six-month ban on offshore drilling installed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill became a major political issue over the summer, as Gulf State lawmakers and industry groups charged the White House with unfairly threatening thousands of jobs. House Republicans have said they plan on investigating the circumstances surrounding the moratorium when they take power next year.
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and several other Gulf State members of Congress asked the Interior IG to investigate the moratorium and the peer review claim.
“The inspector general’s finding that the blanket-drilling moratorium was driven by a politics and not by science is bitter news for families who, because of it, lost their jobs, savings, and way of life,” Cassidy said Tuesday. “Candidate Obama promised that he would guided by science, not ideology. If that were true, at least 12,000 jobs and 1.8 billion dollars of economic activity would have been saved on the Gulf Coast.”
Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the changes were part of the normal editing and consulting process.
“There was no intent to mislead the public,” Barkoff said in a statement to POLITICO. “The decision to impose a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling was made by the secretary, following consultation with colleagues including the White House.
yeah, I trust this administration…