New Orleans, La. – Staff of the national Oil Spill Commission says that a few weeks into the spill, government scientists were denied permission from the White House budget office to release a worst-case scenario. At the time, the Coast Guard and BP were estimating up to 5,000 barrels a day were gushing from the well. Those figures are now estimated at more than 10 times that amount. The commission report says the low number may have contributed to the public perception that the government was either incompetent or dishonest about the spill. It also says the optimistic estimates may have affected the speed and scale of the government response. The commission's final report is due in January.
For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.