The federal official overseeing offshore drilling announced his departure Monday in a fallout from the Gulf oil spill and criticism that federal regulators have been too cozy with industry.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has decided to have a presidential commission investigate the cause of the rig explosion that unleashed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, where engineers are struggling after three weeks to stop the flow.
The presidential panel will be similar to ones that examined the Challenger space shuttle disaster and Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced. The commission also will examine the safety of offshore oil drilling and the effectiveness of its regulations.
The commission would be one of nearly a dozen investigations and reviews launched since the April 20 explosion, although it likely would be the most comprehensive.
At least seven congressional committees are looking into the Gulf spill, including the Senate environment committee, which holds its second hearing on the spill on Tuesday.