Obama Creates Bipartisan Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

May 23, 2010 Updated: May 23, 2010

In his weekly address to the nation on Saturday, President Obama announced an executive order establishing a National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and offshore drilling. The commission will be bipartisan and headed by co-chairmen Bob Graham and William K. Reilly.

Graham is a former two-term Florida governor and former senator, and Reilly is the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It was approximately a month ago when BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling facility off the coast of Louisiana exploded. The blast killed 11 people and devastated the underwater equipment which led to a great oil spill that still threatens local wildlife and the environment.

According to President Obama, America’s best minds are working to solve the problem using the best technology while 1,100 ships, 24,000 people, and 2 million feet of boom work round-the-clock to contain the spill.

Economically, the spill has hurt America, as a large part of the nation’s fish market supply comes from the area of the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government is assisting local businesses and fishermen, but it is a struggle.

“Folks on the Gulf Coast—and across America—are rightly demanding swift action to clean up BP’s mess and end this ordeal,” said Obama in his weekly address on May 22. “But, they’re also demanding to know how this happened in the first place, and how we can make sure it never happens again.”

The new commission’s co-chairmen Bob Graham and William Reilly and their team are tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent and reduce the impact of future oil spills as the result of offshore drilling. They will be joined by five others. Members will include people with appropriate expertise both diverse and relevant including no sitting government employees or elected officials.

The commission’s focus will be on the environmental and safety precautions being built into the nation’s regulatory framework in order to ensure future instances like this never occur, while building upon the knowledge already attained from previous investigations.

Finally, the commission’s work will be transparent and subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act and report within six months of having been convened.

“But even as we continue to hold BP accountable, we also need to hold Washington accountable,” said Obama in his weekly address. “Now, this catastrophe is unprecedented in its nature, and it presents a host of new challenges we are working to address. But the question is what lessons we can learn from this disaster to make sure it never happens again.”