Two Republicans on a House panel have called on the Interior Department's Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall to open an investigation into allegations that the Obama administration altered peer-reviewed recommendations by experts in a report to justify the 60-day moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The safety report, which included the recommendation for the moratorium "was presented to the president and the American people as having been peer reviewed by a group of prominent engineers" from the National Academy of Engineering, wrote Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), a committee member and chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals, in a letter to Kendall Tuesday.

"This statement was patently false. The engineers have come forward to declare that the report was edited by political appointees after their review but prior to presentation to the president," the House lawmakers said. The engineers have publicly said they do not support a blanket moratorium (see Daily GPI, June 14).

"The decision to alter the report after the peer-review process severely undermines trust in the Department of the Interior and the federal government...Clearly the decision to establish a six-month moratorium was not based on sound science. The outside experts who cosigned the report have raised serious concerns that the imposition of the moratorium would exacerbate any safety issues associated with deepwater drilling," Hastings and Lamborn said.

"This overreaching by political appointees in either the department or the White House [has] caused the unnecessary expenditure of significant department funds to reissue decisions, has adversely impacted tens of thousands of citizens through lost wages and jobs, cost business hundreds of thousands of dollars, and incurred litigation costs to defend the moratorium that the court has found to be arbitrary and capricious," the lawmakers said (see Daily GPI, June 23).

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