Graham, Reilly to oversee BP disaster

June 1, 2010 at 12:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has appointed former Sen. Bob Graham and former EPA chief Bill Reilly to lead an investigation into the BP disaster.

Obama said Tuesday Graham and Reilly, who served as Environmental Protection Agency director during the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, will oversee a commission to examine the BP spill and its causes so "we never face such a disaster again."

The administration has been running into sharp criticism for its handling of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil has been gushing into the gulf at a rate of 5,000 to 19,000 barrels a day since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, caught fire and sank six weeks ago, killing 11 oil workers.

Obama said it is "critical we take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates."

"If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change," Obama said. "If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region."

A 30-day safety review turned up a number of recommendations and Obama said he has sent them to Congress for action.

Some 17,000 national guardsmen in four states and 1,700 vessels have been activated to help in the cleanup effort, Obama said.

The president said he directed Homeland Security Directed Janet Napolitano and Adm. Thad Allen to triple the manpower where oil has reached the shore or will hit shore within 24 hours.

A six-month moratorium is in place halting deepwater drilling.

"We have an obligation to investigate what went wrong," Obama said.

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