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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

With Bob Graham at helm, oil commission gets started

Grahamobama Bob Graham, the former Florida governor and U.S. senator, will be at the White House tomorrow for the first discussions with President Barack Obama on the oil spill commission Graham will co-chair. (UPDATE with photo from Tuesday)

"This is probably one of the most important environmental issues that the U.S. has faced maybe in my lifetime," Graham, 73, told the St. Petersburg Times moments ago after his plane landed at Dulles International Airport. "To be asked to be part of this and to render an opinion as to both the past and the future is a humbling challenge."

Graham said he and co-chair Bill Reilly spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week together "to do some initial planning." They will visit with the president at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday in the Oval Office and also with EPA director Carol Browner.

It was Browner, former head of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, who called Graham about the post. Graham has opposed efforts to expand offshore drilling near Florida but said he is coming in with an open mind.

"I see myself as being a juror," he said. "We're going to try to approach this with a great degree of open- mindedness and open to the facts as they are developed and wherever they might lead."

The commission's charge is to come up with recommendations on how to prevent and mitigate future spills. Five more members are yet to be named. The group is to conclude its work by the end of the year.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:40am]


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