The White House plans to establish a presidential commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico along with oil industry practices and government oversight, an administration official said Monday.
President Barack Obama will establish the commission by executive order. It will be similar to panels created to investigate the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a public announcement.
No current government employee or elected official will be eligible to serve on the commission, the official said, though other details of its makeup were not immediately available. The scope of its inquiry will range from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of the Minerals Management Service, the government agency that grants drilling rights.
The presidential commission will join a half-dozen other probes already under way, including congressional and Cabinet-level inquiries and an internal investigation by BP PLC itself, the company that owned the well where an oil rig exploded April 20. Eleven people died, the giant rig sank, and broken pipes started spewing oil in an ongoing environmental catastrophe of unknown proportions.
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