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NOAA official: Roughly three-quarters of spilled oil still in Gulf


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The Hill:

NOAA official: Roughly three-quarters of spilled oil still in Gulf
By Darren Goode - 08/19/10 02:00 PM ET

Roughly three-quarters of the oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s ruptured well is still in the environment, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official told a House panel Thursday. 

The estimate contrasts previous pronouncements by administration officials that only about a quarter of the oil remains to be addressed. 

Bill Lehr, a senior scientist at NOAA, said at a House Energy and Commerce subpanel hearing Thursday that federal officials have only confirmed that 10 percent of the 4.1 million barrels of oil that leaked into the Gulf have been either skimmed or burned. 

Federal officials used a different estimate of how much oil leaked from the well — 4.9 million barrels — in preparing a report this month saying that only about 25 percent is still left to be recovered in the water. But critics say using that higher baseline skewed the numbers.

Lehr said the 4.1 million barrel figure is more accurate, as others outside the administration have also pointed out, because it takes into account 800,000 barrels that were captured directly from the BP well and did not leak.

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