By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A lawmaker on Friday urged BP to provide more information about how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from its ruptured well, noting that estimates range from 5,000 to 100,000 barrels per day.
Democratic Representative Edward Markey said the public deserves to know exactly how much oil will end up in the ocean and ultimately on U.S. coastlines.
"I am concerned that an underestimation of the flow may be impeding the ability to solve the leak and handle management of the disaster," Markey said in a letter to BP.
Markey's letter requests BP provide all documents relating to estimates about the spill and their scientific basis.
Markey is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Environment. A separate Energy and Commerce subcommittee has already launched an investigation into BP's response to the Gulf oil spill.
BP defended its lower spill estimate of 5,000 bpd.
"I think that's a good range," BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said on CNN. "I don't know the precise number, but I think it's somewhere around that number."
BP and the U.S. government are working to contain the oil spill caused by the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which threatens to become the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama acknowledged the debate on the size of the Gulf oil spill after meeting with top advisers.
"Since no one can get down there in person, we know there's a level of uncertainty," Obama told reporters.
Obama said the government's efforts have always been geared toward possibility of a catastrophic event.
(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman)