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Gulf oil spill: White House to establish presidential commission

May 17, 2010 |  2:45 pm

The White House will establish a presidential commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an administration official said.

President 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 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. Other details weren't immediately available.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the Gulf oil spill has claimed its first casualty at the Interior Department.

Chris Oynes, who oversees offshore drilling programs at the Minerals Management Service, will retire at the end of the month, according to an e-mail sent by an agency official to staff and obtained by the Associated Press. Oynes was regional director in charge of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil programs for 13 years before he was promoted in 2007 to associate director in charge of all offshore activities.

Oynes has come under criticism for being too close to the industry the agency oversees. His departure comes as Obama has vowed to end a “cozy relationship” between the MMS and industry.

-- Associated Press