BP Compensation Fund Report Reveals Opinion, Not Scientific Fact

“Opinions are issued and declared as fact, while studies show that the presence or impacts of oil in other spills have lasted for decades.”

02-02-2011 // Max Greenberg
 Leilani Munter

A new report commissioned for the Gulf oil disaster compensation fund claims commercial fisheries will likely be recovered by the end of 2012, but scientists say the conclusions are shortsighted.

This is not a scientific report – it’s an opinion. There’s just no data here. It doesn’t propose any methodology by which its assumptions and predictions could be tested,” said Dr. Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography at Florida State University and a member of NWF’s Science Advisory Panel. “We can’t use these early rosy scenarios as an excuse to not to do what’s necessary, which is once and for all establishing a health monitoring method and restoration program for the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. If such a program had been in place, we would have a much better idea of the Gulf oil disaster’s true effects.”

The Deepwater Horizon leak, which took more than four months to be effectively sealed, spilled some 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. More than 8,000 birds, endangered sea turtles and marine mammals were found dead in the disaster area. 

“While short term response by the ecosystem appears encouraging, it’s too soon to say whether commercial fisheries will recover quickly – but in some ways, it may not matter,” said Dr. George Crozier, director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab and a member of the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Oil Disaster Science Advisory Panel. “Lingering lack of consumer confidence in the safety of Gulf seafood and the downturn of tourism could have long-term socio-economic impacts.”

Prior to the spill, the state of Louisiana provided the U.S. with 30 percent of its domestic seafood, according to a Economic Impact Analysis (PDF) released by Greater New Orleans, Inc. Regional Economic Alliance. That report concluded that "[f]urther research is needed to examine the long-term ecological impacts of exposure to oil concentrations and dispersant chemicals, as well as the impact on the fishery industry of decreased consumer demand for seafood."

“It’s Groundhog Day and much like the Bill Murray movie, I feel like I’m living the same day over again,” said Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation. “Opinions are issued and declared as fact, while studies show that the presence or impacts of oil in other spills have lasted for decades.”

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s response to the Gulf oil disaster at NWF.org/OilSpill.

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