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Bob Graham to Lead Commission on Oil Drilling

WASHINGTON - Former Sen. Bob Graham will head a commission to recommend regulatory changes in coastal drilling in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico spill, President Barack Obama announced Saturday.

Graham, a Florida Democrat, will co-chair the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling with William Reilly, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The panel is charged with recommending ways to prevent future spills and reduce their harm. The commission will study the spill and issue a report in six months.

The panel will take into account the results of other investigations into the cause of the current spill. BP's well off Louisiana exploded April 20, and continues to spew 200,000 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf. BP is struggling to cap the gusher nearly a mile below sea level.

Graham is a former two-term governor and three-term senator who left office in January 2005 and spent a year as a scholar at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

From May 2008 to February 2010 he was chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation of Terrorism. He is also a member of the Fiscal Crisis Inquiry Commission, which Congress created to examine the causes of the current fiscal crisis. That panel is supposed to report back Dec. 15.

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana offered the Republican rebuttal to Obama's radio address, where he announced the commission. Vitter complained that congressional Democrats were distracting from the spill's relief effort by holding hearings at a time when the country should be focused on capping the well and protecting the coast.

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