Bradford Plumer raises an eyebrow:

If BP's leak estimates were correct, then it'd be facing something like a $140 million fine so far. But if the high-end estimates are right, well, the oil giant could be facing penalties in the billions. Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the government would make its own independent assessment of the numbers, though it's unclear why this wasn't done earlier.

Kate Sheppard voices the same concern:

If one believed BP's original estimate, there would only be 1.4 million gallons of oil in the gulf so far. If you believe the adjusted figure from NOAA and BP, 6.9 million gallons of oil have already hemorrhaged into the Gulf. But if outside experts are right, the figure is likely closer to 131.6 million gallons – or nearly 13 Exxon Valdez spills.

(Photo: A dead oil-covered fish lies on the beach on May 22, 2010 on Grand Isle, Louisiana. More than a month after BP's Deepwater Horizon well exploded, oil continues gushing from the well and is coating beaches and marshland along the Louisiana coast. By John Moore/Getty Images.)

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