White House Creates Independent Commission to Investigate Spill

NEW YORK (May 17, 2010) -- According to the New York Times and Associated Press, President Barack Obama will establish an independent commission by executive order to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

This commission will mirror past panels that investigated the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.

Following is a Statement by Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The magnitude of the Gulf oil drilling disaster demands an equally sizable response by the White House.  The establishment of a presidential commission to investigate this disaster, as was done following the Three Mile Island and Challenger disasters, is a critical step to providing an independent, unbiased assessment of what happened and how such disasters can be averted in the future.

“To be effective,  the commission should be charged with examining the causes of the current spill as well as the adequacy of oil spill containment and clean-up measures.  We also need the commission to determine whether and how such spills can be avoided in the future. And it needs to assess the implications of its findings for drilling in, or adjacent to sensitive or ecologically important areas, including in the Arctic.

“Finally, the commission should be called on to make recommendations on how to strengthen laws, regulations and reform agency oversight in order to keep this from happening again.”