WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday establishing a bipartisan commission on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and offshore drilling.
The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling will be chaired by Bob Graham, a former two-term Florida governor and U.S. senator, and William K. Reilly, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Obama said Saturday in his weekly address.
The seven-member commission, which will not include any current government employees or elected officials, will offer recommendations on how to prevent and mitigate the effects of spills due to offshore drilling.
"We are drawing on America's best minds and using the world's best technology to stop the leak" that began when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20, Obama said.
"We've deployed over 1,100 vessels, about 24,000 personnel, and more than 2 million total feet of boom to help contain it. And we're doing all we can to assist struggling fishermen, and the small businesses and communities that depend on them. …
"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. …
"On Friday, I signed an executive order establishing the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. While there are a number of ongoing investigations, including an independent review by the National Academy of Engineering, the purpose of this Commission is to consider both the root causes of the disaster and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster from happening again. …
"I've asked Democrat Bob Graham and Republican Bill Reilly to co-chair this Commission. … In the days to come, I'll appoint five other distinguished Americans -- including scientists, engineers, and environmental advocates -- to join them on the commission. And I'm directing them to report back in six months with recommendations on how we can prevent -- and mitigate the impact of -- any future spills that result from offshore drilling," Obama said.
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