Investigating the Continuing Disaster in the Gulf

By: MATTHEW BROWN - Associated Press Writer
By: MATTHEW BROWN - Associated Press Writer

President Barack Obama says an independent commission investigating the Gulf oil spill will thoroughly examine the disaster and its causes to ensure that the nation never faces such a catastrophe again.

Obama spoke in the Rose Garden after the group's first meeting and pledged that necessary changes will be made.

The president says that if laws are insufficient, they'll be changed. He says that if government oversight wasn't tough enough, that will change too. And Obama said if laws were broken, those who were responsible will be prosecuted.

Obama says the leaders of the commission have his support to follow the facts wherever they lead.

Also on Tuesday, the Coast Guard replaced the admiral who has been the federal on-scene coordinator since an oil rig exploded and millions of gallons of crude leaked into the Gulf.

The spill's unified command center said in a news release Tuesday that Rear Adm. Mary Landry will return to duties as commandant of the 8th Coast Guard District in New Orleans to focus on hurricane season preparations.

Her replacement is Rear Adm. James Watson, who joined Landry as deputy on-scene coordinator three days after the rig exploded April 20.

Coast Guard commandant Adm. Robert Papp says in a statement that Landry's relief had been planned since the start of the response.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, praised Landry's performance.

Still, a spokesman for BP PLC says the company needs more proof to support claims by scientists that huge plumes of oil are suspended underwater in the Gulf.

CEO Tony Hayward said Sunday there was "no evidence" of the plumes and that all the oil from the spill was floating to the surface. Spokesman Graham MacEwen said Tuesday that BP is awaiting analysis of water samples taken in the Gulf before making a final determination.

Since the blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, researchers from universities in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi have reported plumes.

Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has asked BP to back up Hayward's claim that they do not exist.

©2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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