Murky Relationships Mark Scientific Efforts to Assess Spill's Impacts

"Lawmakers have criticized BP PLC for attempting to 'muzzle' scientists researching the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with confidentiality agreements and blocking the 'open exchange of scientific data and analysis.' But the government is employing similar tactics itself.

The government is hiring expert witnesses under confidentiality agreements as it builds a legal case documenting the oil spill's environmental impact and determining how much BP and its partners should pay to restore the Gulf to pre-spill conditions, officials said.

And, while federal and state agencies are publicly sharing oil exposure data collected by BP-government scientist teams, they reserve the right to withhold information from studies the government and BP have not agreed on, said Tom Brosnan, an environmental scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

Laura Petersen reports for Greenwire August 18, 2010.

Thursday, August 19, 2010