Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Bob Graham to head oil spill probe

Former Florida Senator Bob Graham is to lead an investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (AP)

The White House has approached former Florida Senator Bob Graham and ex-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly to lead a presidential commission investigating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Graham is a Democrat and Reilly served in a Republican administration, a bipartisan model similar to other high-level investigative panels.

The White House is expected to make the announcement Saturday and said it was modelling the commission on panels that investigated the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster and the nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island in 1979.

Graham served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and previously served two terms as Florida governor, and Reilly served as EPA administrator under President George HW Bush.

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 appointment of the pair was welcomed by environmental groups, lawmakers and others.

"This independent commission will guarantee a transparent and accountable investigation so the public can have complete trust in the integrity of its findings," said Republican Lois Capps, who had called for creation of such a panel.

A number of other investigations are already under way into circumstances surrounding the massive leak that began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in fire April 20, killing 11 people and later sinking.

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