Fox News' Jarrett failed to challenge Energy Secretary's false claim that no "oil or gas [was] spilled" during Katrina, Rita

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Fox news host Gregg Jarrett did not challenge the false assertion by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman that "[w]hen we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in at least in recent memory, in '05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a -- a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment." In fact, according to a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in 124 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of more than 17,000 barrels of petroleum.

During the July 30 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Gregg Jarrett failed to challenge the false assertion by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman that "[w]hen we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in at least in recent memory, in '05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment." In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, according to a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service -- an agency within the Interior Department -- by the international consulting firm Det Norske Veritas, "124 spills were reported with a total volume of roughly 17,700 barrels of total petroleum products" as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

By contrast, on the July 17 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor David Shuster confronted Nancy Pfotenhauer, a senior policy adviser for Sen. John McCain, about her past assertion that no oil was spilled as a result of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Shuster said: "Earlier this week on this program, though, you defended offshore drilling and said, quote, 'We withstood Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and did not spill a drop.' In fact, the U.S. Mineral Management Service said that Katrina and Rita caused 124 offshore spills for a total of more than 743,000 gallons of oil and refined products spilled. So, Nancy, do you want to take back what you said?" Pfotenhauer replied: "Right. Well, I actually do. I was misinformed, and my embarrassment aside, the point is still that we had a remarkable performance."

From the July 30 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

JARRETT: Well, the rising cost of energy -- the top focus today at the White House, President Bush wrapped up a news conference a little while ago after meeting with his cabinet to tackle the rising cost of oil. A little good news, though, at the pump today: The national average dropped two cents overnight. It is now $3.92 per gallon, which is still about $1 more than this time last year.

But you heard the president in the Rose Garden: "I've lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling. It's up to Congress to allow more drilling." Democrats seem opposed.

With us now, a gentleman who was there meeting with the president this morning: the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman. Mr. Secretary, welcome.

BODMAN: Gregg, I'm happy to be here. Thank you.

JARRETT: You know, the only way to impact prices is to either affect supply, demand, or both.

BODMAN: Right.

JARRETT: And yet many in your town, as you know, oppose more drilling, especially offshore. What will supply and prices be like if we do not act to increase production?

BODMAN: Well, I think there -- we're clearly headed higher, it would appear. What we are attempting to do, what the president was attempting to do this morning with his remarks in the Rose Garden was to augment that which we're already doing. That is to say, work on energy efficiency, work on renewable energy, work on coal, work on nuclear power, all the different things that we're doing, those are being augmented by work on hydrogen fuel cells and plug-in hybrid vehicles, all sorts of things that the Energy Department is doing.

But in order to accomplish that, we need more oil and gas from our country.

JARRETT: Yeah.

BODMAN: And it is there, and the -- the American public is I think getting the idea.

JARRETT: I --

BODMAN: That's the hope.

JARRETT: I -- I think they are, but you've heard Nancy Peloser -- Pelosi [D-CA], speaker of the House.

BODMAN: Right.

JARRETT: She's vowing to block any offshore drilling because, and this is her latest quote from Politico: "I want to save the planet." That's a -- that's a quote. Look, you're an engineer by background. Has --

BODMAN: That's right.

JARRETT: -- technology improved so dramatically that drilling can now be done in a way that protects the environment?

BODMAN: I believe that it can. When we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in at least in recent memory, in '05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a -- a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment. There is a lot of work and -- that has gone on -- on the Alaska -- in the Alaska area to be able to drill and use directional drilling, so that we can accomplish with a very small footprint a -- a great deal. And that's what's being hoped for and that's what we're espousing and --

JARRETT: Sure.

BODMAN -- trying to make the case for to the American public.

JARRETT: Mr. Secretary, some Democrats have a different idea, including Barack Obama. They want a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the July 17 edition of MSNBC Live:

SHUSTER: Nancy, a key issue, as you know, related to the Middle East, is oil and energy independence. Here at home, Senator McCain supports increased offshore drilling, as you have said. [Sen.] Barack Obama does not. Earlier this week on this program, though, you defended offshore drilling and said, quote, "We withstood Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and did not spill a drop."

In fact, the U.S. Mineral Management Service said that Katrina and Rita caused 124 offshore spills for a total of more than 743,000 gallons of oil and refined products spilled. So, Nancy, do you want to take back what you said?

PFOTENHAUER: Right. Well, I actually do. I was misinformed, and my embarrassment aside, the point is still that we had a remarkable performance. That you had about 16,000 barrels that were lost during two of the worst storms that have ever -- that have hit our coastline in recent history. And keep in mind, David, that 1,700 barrels per day naturally seeps into the ocean floor, so, 365 days a year, you're at about 620,000 barrels per day -- pardon me, per year that naturally seep into the ocean floor. So, this is a really remarkable performance of technology. And according to the National Oceanic Industry Association, since 1985, we've pulled about seven billion barrels of oil out of the federal offshore area, and we have only spilled about one one-thousandth of that oil. That's a 99.999-percent success rate. That's why other developed nations don't tie their hands the way we do.

SHUSTER: Right, but just to be clear, you just -- I thought you just said 16,000, but in fact, the U.S. Mineral Management Service said Katrina and Rita caused a spilled -- and this is just offshore - of 743,000 gallons of oil. Are they wrong?

PFOTENHAUER: Yeah. You're talking gallon -- you're talking gallons, I'm talking barrels. That's the --

SHUSTER: OK.

PFOTENHAUER: -- only difference. There are about 42 --

SHUSTER: Fair enough.

PFOTENHAUER: -- I believe 42 gallons in each barrel.

SHUSTER: Fair enough.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling, Energy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Gregg Jarrett
Show/Publication
Happening Now
Stories/Interests
Hurricane Katrina, Natural Disasters, Gas Prices
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