Obama to meet chairmen of oil spill panel
Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 10:50 am
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama plans to hold his first meeting with the co-chairmen of an independent commission investigating the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Obama was to meet today with Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and U.S. senator, and William K. Reilly, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, with a statement to reporters afterward, the White House said.
In a sign of an increasingly assertive administration role, Attorney General Eric Holder also planned to visit the Gulf Coast today to see areas affected by the oil spill and to meet with state attorneys general and U.S. prosecutors.
Several senators have asked the Justice Department to determine whether criminal or civil laws were broken in the spill. The Justice Department has told Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate’s environment committee, that it has ordered BP PLC not to destroy documents that could be relevant in an investigation.
Holder was scheduled to receive a Coast Guard tour, then meet with the attorneys general of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi and several U.S. attorneys.
The independent commission’s inquiry will range from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of government agencies that oversee drilling.
The session comes three days after BP said its latest attempt to stop the oil spewing out of a broken well 5,000 feet underwater had failed and four days after Obama visited coastal Louisiana to assess the situation and assure residents frustrated by the government’s response that he is doing everything possible to fix the well.
Amid concern that the worst oil spill in U.S. history could threaten his presidency, Obama has stepped up his public appearances to demonstrate that he is engaged. He held a White House news conference Thursday, focused almost entirely on the oil spill, and followed that with the Gulf visit on Friday.
Tuesday’s meeting will be Obama’s first with the commission since he named it less than two weeks ago.
Obama still must name five members of the commission, which will investigate such issues as what caused the spill, the safety of offshore drilling and operations at the federal agency that grants drilling rights.
Obama was not expected to announce those names today.
The Gulf oil spill began April 20 when BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and rupturing the underwater pipe.
In the six weeks since, the government estimates that between 19.7 million and 43 million gallons of crude have poured into the Gulf — affecting beaches, wildlife and the local economy and making it the worst spill in U.S. history.
Published in The Messenger 6.1.10