Jun 1, 2010 9:39 AM by Sharlee Barriere
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack 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 Tuesday 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.
The 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 PLC 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
A senior administration official said Obama was not expected to
announce those names on Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of
anonymity because the meeting had not been formally announced.
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.
After BP announced Saturday that its latest attempt to stop the
oil, known as a "top kill," had failed, Obama said that
disappointing news was "as enraging as it is heartbreaking."
It was the latest in a series of failed efforts by the British
oil company to shut off the oil flow. BP will try again as early as
Wednesday when it attempts to put a cap on the leaking well so oil
can be siphoned to the surface.
Graham, a Democrat, served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and
previously served two terms as Florida governor. Reilly served as
EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush.
Meanwhile, Carol Browner, a top adviser to Obama, said she
doesn't want to guess the prospects for success when BP PLC again
tries to use a containment cap to control the Gulf Coast oil spill.
Interviewed Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," the White
House energy and global warming czar said, "I dont want to put
odds on it. ... We want to get this thing contained."
Browner said "everyone, I think, is hoping for the best, but we
continue to plan for the worst." She said she's concerned about
the impact the hurricane season could have on ending the