NOAA Chief Promotes Transparency in Science Regarding BP Oil Disaster

Bob Dylan once sang that "you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."  But if you're the part of the federal government charged with conducting scientific studies of the biggest environmental disaster in the nations history, and what you say profoundly impacts millions of people's lives and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, then you probably DO want a weather man to say which way the wind blows.

Meanwhile, everybody – me included – is growing more and more outraged at the scale of this disaster.   We want information about what’s really happening out there: where’s the oil? How much is there? What’s the toxicity? How will the ecosystem respond?

Caught in the middle is NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco.  She has the unenviable task of conducting scientific studies in the middle of this mess and she deserves credit for promoting government transparency in the science around the disaster.  As soon as results were validated Tuesday, NOAA communicated and released to the public data from the recent scientific mission of the R/V Weatherbird II that tested Gulf water.  This was an important step to build public confidence in the government’s handling of the disaster.

Crisis situations like the BP oil disaster remind us all that the public has a right to know what’s going on. While I—and I’m sure many others—are frustrated that many of our questions haven’t yet been answered, transparency in the results gives me confidence that we are getting the full story.

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