Gulf disaster faces inquiry at level of Three Mile Island
By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY
May 17, 2010, 10:01PM
WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama prepared to authorize an independent commission to investigate the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, a top federal regulator on Monday became the first to fall in what likely will be a big shake-up of U.S. drilling oversight.
The panel, which would be established by executive order, according to congressional and White House officials speaking on background, would be modeled after commissions that investigated the 1986 loss of the space shuttle Challenger and the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.
Lawmakers and environmentalists who have advocated an independent investigation cheered the move.
“Creating an independent blue-ribbon panel on this oil spill will help provide the recommendations to ensure that similar disasters do not happen again,” said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
The independent commission comes amid aggressive congressional investigations to find out what happened April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers and unleashing an underwater oil spill that has dumped more than 6 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.