As estimates of the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf continue to rise, one faith leader is highlighting BP's seemingly endless strain of misinformation as the company's "other toxic spill."
"After five years of tenaciously pulling our bootstraps to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina's head-on collision with the Mississippi coast, we in the Gulf are now held hostage to an oil company who will not tell us what the future holds," Belhaven University President Roger Parrott said on Monday.
"While their oil flow pollutes our environment and our economy, BP's other toxic spill of misinformation has become just as damaging," he continued. "Their limited communication, filled with blaming, selfishness, and the slow drip of compounding uncertainty, magnifies the pain of the crisis."
Parrott's remarks come as government scientists again raised their estimates of how much oil is still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists now believe that some 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil are gushing each day from BP's broken well, which translates to 1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons daily.
The numbers, based on "updated information and scientific assessments," are nearly doubled from last week's assessment of 20,000 to 40,000 barrels per day.
Furthermore, the estimates are dozens of times larger than BP's original assessment that only 1,000 barrels a day were leaking into the Gulf.
"If we had we known what was coming from the beginning…we'd have reached for our bootstraps again and worked for solutions," Parrott said. "All we'd ask now is to know as much as they know, even if they don't have all the answers. Isn't that what all of us want when we feel overwhelmed in a crisis?"
Parrott continued saying that leaders in the church, "while pressing to finding solutions to the problem itself…must also communicate properly to those in our care, so we don't also create a subsequent culture of anxiety that will become even more damaging than our root challenge."
"Leaders who carry the burden of bad news will be respected and trusted in the long run and are best equipped to offer comfort in time of crisis," he said.
It's been nearly 60 days since BP's Deepwater Horizon oilrig caught fire and exploded in April, killing 11 people and beginning what is considered the worst environmental disaster in American history.
On Tuesday, several Congressmen blasted the executives of BP and other oil companies for what they called "cookie-cutter" disaster response plans which included such measures as protecting walruses in the Gulf, even though there aren't any.
Other damning evidence in the reports was a phone number listed for a dead scientist as a point of contact.
"The American people deserve oil safety plans that are ironclad and not boilerplate," Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told the CEO's of BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell Oil in hearing yesterday.
Meanwhile, President Obama has promised that 90 percent of the oil in the Gulf will be captured in the coming weeks, although warning that clean up could take months or even years.
"Make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes," the president said in an address yesterday evening. "We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy."
The president also called the oil spill a wake-up call to strengthen efforts in developing alternative energy sources.
"We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean-energy future is now," Obama said.
"Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America's innovation and seize control of our own destiny," he added, citing the country's "faith in the future" as the driving force behind accomplishing such a task.
"What has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny, our determination to fight for the America we want for our children," the president said. "Even if we're unsure exactly what that looks like, even if we don't yet precisely know how we're going to get there, we know we'll get there."
"It's a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now."