Where Oh Where Is the Oil?

Last I attended a meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi that was billed as one of three forums between federal officials and the academic community to discuss the Unified Command’s draft proposal for monitoring and sampling oil and dispersant beneath the Gulf’s surface. As dueling reports from the government and independent scientist fly back and forth about the fate of BP’s crude, it’s certainly essential that the government consult the Gulf scientists who know this region best.Officials from NOAA, the Coast Guard, EPA, the White House, BP, and other agencies were present to go into more depth about the plan, and answer questions and concerns from the fifty or so scientists gathered in the room. Dr. Monty Graham of the Dauphine Island Sea Lab asked several questions focused on transparency of data from the federal government and BP – pointing out that effectively engaging the academic community requires not just asking independent academics to share their data, but also a commitment on the part of the Unified Command to share data with them.The meeting closed with assurances that the full monitoring and sampling implementation plan would be released later in the week for review and comment from the scientific community.The full draft plan was released on but comment period was only open until September 7th (yesterday) at 5 pm! While there is certainly an urgent need to begin executing the plan, there is also a need for the public, academic community, and NGOs to review it and provide educated input. In fact, one of the thirteen steps outlined in the initial memo on this plan was to “explicitly incorporate academic and private scientific partners.” Allowing just a single business day for input on the full plan, following a holiday weekend and closely coinciding with the beginning of the academic year for many, makes it effectively impossible for the academic community, NGOs, and the public to provide constructive input on this detailed and technical 82 page document.Draft PlanInitial Memo on PlanRaleigh Hoke is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer

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