Govt. Handling of Science on Oil Spill Questioned

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The Obama administration has been criticized for its handling of a scientific report regarding oil drilling safety.

Critics say the administration altered the report to give the impression that scientists supported a ban on deepwater drilling, when they didn't.

The critics argue the White House downplayed some of the key scientific findings and also misrepresented other important information.

The Interior Department's inspector general said the editing changes by the White House resulted "in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed." But it hadn't been. Outside scientists were asked only to review new safety measures for offshore drilling.

"There are really only a few people that know what they are talking about on offshore drilling," said Ford Brett, managing director of Petroskills, a Tulsa, Okla.-based petroleum training organization. "The people who make this policy do not. so don't misrepresent me and use me for cover," said Brett, one of seven experts who reviewed the report.

The White House says the report was simply edited and published too quickly. The administration argues that there was no attempt to mislead anyone.

"Following a review that included interviews with peer review experts, the Inspector General found no intentional misrepresentation of their views.The decision to implement a six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was correctly based on the need for adequate spill response, well containment and safety measures, and we stand behind that decision," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said.

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