June 1st, 2010
12:07 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama gives six-month deadline to Gulf oil spill commission

President Obama met Tuesday with the two heads of his oil spill commission, former EPA Administration William Reilly (right) and former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida (left).
President Obama met Tuesday with the two heads of his oil spill commission, former EPA Administration William Reilly (right) and former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida (left).

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday he expects a new presidential commission tasked with investigating how to prevent future oil spills to "follow the facts wherever they may lead" and report back to him in six months.

The seven-member panel, headed by former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, and former EPA Administrator William Reilly, will "thoroughly examine the (BP oil) spill and its causes so we never face such a catastrophe again," Obama said at the White House. Graham and Reilly joined the president for the announcement.

"We owe all those who've been harmed, as well as future generations, a full and vigorous accounting of the events that led to what has now become the worst oil spill in U.S. history," Obama said. "Only then can we be assured that deep-water drilling can take place safely. ... Only then can we be confident that we've done what's necessary to prevent history from repeating itself."

Obama, who recently created the commission through an executive order, noted that the panel is authorized to hold public hearings and "request information from government, from not-for-profit organizations, and from experts in the oil and gas industry ... as well as from relevant companies, including BP, Transocean, Halliburton and others."

The president's announcement came in the midst of a new BP operation aimed at lessening the amount of oil gushing from an underwater well off the Louisiana coast, according to BP Managing Director Bob Dudley.

BP workers are attempting to make a series of cuts to part of the wellhead in order to prepare the way for a custom-made cap to be fitted over the gusher.

The administration has been struggling to juggle what many observers see as the conflicting tasks of working with BP to contain the spill while also holding BP accountable for the spill's damage. Obama once again insisted Tuesday that the government "will bring those responsible (for the Gulf oil spill) to justice."

Attorney General Eric Holder is heading to the Gulf Coast Tuesday to survey the spill and meet with state attorneys general and federal prosecutors from Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, according to the Justice Department.

Holder said last month that the Justice Department would "ensure that BP is held liable."

Oil has been gushing from the undersea well since April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and later sank. Government estimates are that up to 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) of oil a day are flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Updated: 1:35 p.m.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Padraig

    Here is another bureaucratic committee. Our "fearless leader" once again has done nothing and taken no action. Have you thought that if this occurred under Bush he would have been relentlessly attacked because of lack of action. When will the news media take a similar stance on this character. He is truly clueless. This is a catastrophe of epic proportions and all nothing is being done by our "fearless leader".

    June 1, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. SIX months is like six years

    Six months? How conveniently right after the mid term elections. In 6 months the oll will have reached Maine

    June 1, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. SocialismBad

    How about a Presidential Commission to determine why Obama's administration granted BP these drilling rights and gave BP a free ride? And they can find out why stuff was going haywire for weeks before the spill yet the government was oblivious to the danger.

    June 1, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Winnie

    It will be good to get some real recommendations for future. Up untll now drilling has been dominated by the oil companies no problem attitude which gave us mega problems. Time to get real about the risks.

    It is very clear while the oil companies managed to convince the government in the past they had everything under control, the reality is we are now trying to fix something no one ever for saw or know how to fix.

    June 1, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. A Kickin' Donkey

    There are several aspects to the WELL RUPTURE ... [it is hardly a run of the mill oil spill].

    This commission will deal with the proactive prevention steps that should have been in place WHEN THE WELL WAS AUTHORIZED [ i.e. before this administration took office]. We don't need to say that too often but simply point to the date this well was approved.

    When this report comes out, I hope the typically "business-can-do-no-wrong" Republican politicians, stop their resistance to common sense regulation to protect our environment and the people's livilihoods. Cheny relaxed those regulations and this is the result.

    Notice we haven't heard much him on this .... have we??

    June 1, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Byrd

    How to prevent future oil spills:

    1. Don't drill in places practically unreachable or certain to cause environmental disaster when an emergency does occur.
    2. Legalize hemp and replace petroleum with hemp oil.

    June 1, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Joy

    Some of the comments here are hateful and without merit or facts.

    What are we coming to?

    June 1, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Betty

    People drilling just didn't come since Obama was in office. Everything that was or possibly go wrong now is because the last President didn't do his job except take vacation and make money. Look at what is happening with the wars. The last administration (Bush) stand to gain a lot of money. They had the power to regulate everything but the money did the talk and they did the walking away. So now lets be mindful that we can regulate things if the Republicans can just work with the President.

    June 1, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Slick William

    Here is what it will report:

    The Gulf of Mexico coastline, America's major estuary is dead, soaked in a sea of oil. The coastal communities of America from Texas to Florida that rely upon the Gulf of Mexico fisheries for their livelihoods are now destitute and impoverished, with a predictable 20 year impact window on the estuaries biological communities. (Insert) It was all GW Bush's fault and we recommend no more offshore drilling within our State and Federal waters. Of course, gasoline will now be $9.00/gallon.

    Hey, anybody ever heard of a shear valve connection??

    June 1, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Peace

    Half a year!! Is this not too long? James Carville's voice will have dried already!!

    June 1, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    4000 wells did NOT get drilled in the last 16 months.

    June 1, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Matt

    From now on, why not drill a relief well simultaneously with drilling a new well? Therefore if something happens to the main well, the relief well is already drilled and prepared to handle the failed main well... Is that such a hard concept to grasp?

    June 1, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. The reality is...

    Where are all the conspiracy theorists? Perhaps the Obama administration caused the oil spill so they could put a nail in the coffin to stop oil drilling. Everyone knows they can pull the wool over the eyes of at least half the public... well, at least the legal residents.

    June 1, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Ted

    The oil spill was a result of Bush/Cheney gutting regulations on oil drilling and putting a impotent Minnerals Mgmt Agency in charge of telling the oil companies to regulate themselves while MMS people take reports from the oil companies making it look like they are doing something. MMS people should all be fired from their six figure jobs. They are just lackeys for the big oil companies. It is all George Bush's fault. plain and simple, all you Repukelicans.

    June 1, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. Concerned

    How about we ask BP why they don't disconnect the non functioning LMRP, place another on the BOP and shut the well off ???

    June 1, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Laura, Massachusetts

    It is good to know that our government is so very hard at work...

    I mean 6 months to tell us how to avoid another situation like the one we are in. But before they tell us how to avoid another environmental tragedy maybe they can tell us how to stop this one...I heard they won't even be able to try again until August. That is at least 250,000 gallons of oil into the beautiful Gulf of Mexico...

    Maybe the POTUS can also tell businesses how to stay open when the tourists stop traveling down South. FL is already getting cancellations.

    June 1, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Tom

    The comments from some idiots are so stupide , they have no clue that they are working 5000' under water. Don't blame Mr. president and his addminstration for this. let BP and other engineers to figur out the best possible way to fix, even news media should not give their opinon unless you have a solution to fix other wise you should keep your mouth shut. How come, there is no comment from those GOPERS and that drill baby drill gal ?..............................

    June 1, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Travis In Colorado

    It's going to take 6 months? That's stupid! No wonder the Obumbles Administration can't get anything done! Absolute waste of tax payer money to spend 6 months on this!

    June 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. Liz the First

    Bush and especially Cheney gave the oil companies free rein to foul our waters when they excused them from using the acuoustic switches that would've stopped this spill dead right away. Obama is doing the best he can. because he can't dive down to the ocean floor and stop this with his heat vision he's being accused of doing nothing. the opposition to this good man doing the toughest job in the world is driven by pure mindless hate, as proven very clearly by the posts yesterday condemning him for actually looking out for the safety of attendees at a memorial during a violent, potentially deadly thunderstorm. if he had continued to speak, the same knuckle-draggers would've accused him of arrogantly continuing rather than considering the audience's safety.

    June 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Brenda

    PLEASE-–why can't we have a COMPETENT leader in Washington.

    Obama and his administration are INCOMPETENT--this is unbelievable.

    I want to cry every time I see/hear anything about this.

    Obama and his administration waited a WEEK after the explosion--before they even acknowledged publicly that the explosion occurred.

    If Obama would not have received millions in donations from BP and other oil companies-–I am quite sure that this would have been handled a lot differently.

    June 1, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Ken Brown

    And how much with they be paid at taxpayer expense?

    Just more political payoff...why not hire a real engineering firm?

    June 1, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Gerry NH

    There is a group out of Yeman a group of experts and staff of 30 people. Why are they not being used? Can we wait until August?

    June 1, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. PGLCapeCod

    Those of you that have nothing to say but to blame the President, you need to get a clue.

    Clearly this is a BP issue – their drill team alerted them of issues, and BP execs told them to speed things up and keep drilling. It's as simple as that.

    Stop blaming the President and his team for something this commercial Oil company neglected to manage properly.

    BP should be held 100% accountable by all of us – this is on them, not the White House.

    All you conservatives out there = you complain when government gets involved, yet you whine when something doesn't go your way and point fingers at the same time saying they haven't done enough. So annoying!

    June 1, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. SLP

    Oh good. I feel better now. Is that always your tactic, Mr. President? Does it make you feel less guilty about not actually dealing with anything? After all, you did take the time to "form" a commission. What a joke this president is! Go play basketball or entertain some more celebrities.

    June 1, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. Marty

    The real person in charge here was DICK CHENEY who let the oil companies write their own regulations, then destroyed any record of the White House/Oil Company meetings. Let's not forget HALLIBURTON is also guillty. Too bad this did not happen on the Bush watch where it belonged.

    June 1, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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