Watchdog Blog

Dan Froomkin: The Media Has Dispersed, But Questions About The Oil Spill Remain

Posted at 1:50 pm, September 17th, 2010
Dan Froomkin Mug

The Natural Resources Defense Council is trying to remind journalists that there are still a lot of important, unanswered questions about the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Press coverage of the spill took a nose-dive after the blowout was contained and the White House misleadingly but successfully used a scientifically sketchy report to make the case that the “vast majority” of the oil was gone.

But the NRDC, which is calling attention to the release of a new book about the spill, poses these questions:

  • Just this week, scientists from the University of Georgia and others found a blanket of oil more than 2 inches thick covering the ocean floor a mile deep and up to 80 miles from the spill site. What is that doing to fish and shellfish in deep ocean waters? We have no idea.
  • What has happened to the populations of crabs along the coast, oysters, shrimp and speckled trout in the bayous, wetlands, inlets and bays? We don’t yet know.
  • Where is this oil in the food chain? Did the babies make it or did we lose a generation here? Where is the oil we cannot see? What impact will it have on coral reefs?

The NRDC’s new book is by Peter Lehner and Bob Deans and it’s called In Deep Water: The Anatomy of a Disaster, the Fate of the Gulf, and How to End Our Oil Addiction.  Lehner is the executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and teaches environmental law at Columbia University.  Deans is a veteran journalist, former White House correspondent and author of the 2007 non-fiction book The River Where America Began.

As for me, I’ve been asking some more questions of my own over at the Huffington Post lately, including: What led Obama administration officials to wildly understate the size of the BP oil spill until it was all over? Was it just a series of honest mistakes? Or was science being manipulated for political purposes?

One Response to “The Media Has Dispersed, But Questions About The Oil Spill Remain”

  1. Don Greenwood says:

    Hello Dan: Your previous employer ran an article addressing the blanket of oil a few weeks ago, but I have not noticed any follow up in the WP. However, the WP also did publish an article questioning the White House’s rosy assumptions regarding the miraculous disappearance of the oil associated with the blowout. Once, again I didn’t notice any followup. Coverage of the spill, as you indicate, went essentially off the radar screen, until today (October 12), when Ken Salazar of the Interior Department lifted the temporary ban on deep ocean drilling ahead of schedule.

    What is particularly chilling about the announcement is the way Salazar announced it -” We’re open for business”.

    What’s going on here? At the very least, why was there a rush to lift the ban that was supposed to stay in place until November 30th?

    BTW, is not the same without you.

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