Obama Formally Creates Oil Spill Commission

By Gregory

May 22, 2010 6:00am

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports:

In order to make sure that the “unprecedented” disaster like the oil spill in the Gulf never happens again, President Obama announced in his weekly address that he has signed the executive order creating the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Noting that he “can’t think of two people who will bring grater experience or better judgment to the task at hand,” the president appointed former two-term Florida Gov. and former Sen. Bob Graham and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly as co-chairs.

Five additional people will be appointed to the commission eventually, including scientists, engineers and environmental advocates, and the president will ask them to report back in six months with recommendations on how to “prevent and mitigate the impact of – any future spills that result from offshore drilling.” No sitting government employees or elected officials will sit on the commission, the White House said.

President Obama said the purpose of the commission is “to consider both the root cause of the disaster and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster again.” 

“If the laws on our books are inadequate to prevent such an oil spill, or if we didn’t enforce those laws – I want to know it.  I want to know what worked and what didn’t work in our response to the disaster, and where oversight of the oil and gas industry broke down. We know, for example, that a cozy relationship between oil and gas companies and agencies that regulate them has long been a source of concern.”

And President Obama makes sure to stress that the administration is still holding BP accountable for this spill while looking ahead at prevention at the same time.

“Folks on the Gulf Coast – and across America – are rightly demanding swift action to clean up BP’s mess and end this ordeal. But they’re also demanding to know how this happened in the first place, and how we can make sure it never happens again,” Obama said, “But even as we continue to hold BP accountable, we also need to hold Washington accountable.”

In the weekly Republican response, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., blasted the politics of Washington during a time of crisis.

“I guess it’s typical of the culture in Washington for politicians to believe that they can solve an ongoing crisis with statements and testimonies in congressional committee rooms.  But the time for committee hearings is for after the well has been capped – not before,” Vitter said. “Folks closer to the scene understand that.  We want 100 percent of the attention of all parties focused on our two most immediate problems: stopping the gushing oil, and protecting our coastlines and marshes from the oil.”

-Sunlen Miller

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