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Opinion: ‘Trust, but verify’ holds true for Gulf oil spill

Oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in July, 2009. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

More unpleasant facts about the oil disaster coming to light in reports and documents obtained with Freedom of Information Act requests

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — I never thought I’d quote Ronald Reagan, but the latest news on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster makes me think of his admonition to “trust, but verify.”

Late Wednesday, the federal government released a report on how it arrived at its conclusions about the rate of oil that was spewing from BP’s failed well, and as it turns out, the widespread skepticism about some of those estimates was more than justified.

The report was released at the start of the holiday weekend, at a time when the media traditionally focuses on cheery recipes and the latest shopping news from the local mall. It suggests that there was a lot of internal debate, not only about the numbers themselves, but about how the information was being communicated to the public, and about the role of government and non-government scientists involved in the oil spill calculations. Continue reading

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