Obama’s Spill Commission Co-chair has Ties to Oil


Rachel Maddow makes an excellent point here. With all the people in the US to lead the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, why did President Obama pick a Republican with ties to the oil industry?

William K. Reilly was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1989 through 1992. But now he’s on the board of ConocoPhillips, DuPont (which creates products for the oil industry, among other things), and the Texas-based electric utility company, Energy Future Holdings.

ConocoPhillips in particular is not without a stake in this investigation. The company has a partnership with BP on exploration in another region of the Gulf, as well as joint venture with BP on the Alaska natural gas pipeline. It also has leases for exploration in the arctic, in a region whose fate will likely be decided by this panel.

Reilly is also the former president of World Wildlife Fund. But still—couldn’t Obama, who just yesterday criticized the “far too cozy” relationship oil companies have enjoyed with the government, find a Republican who didn’t have ties to the industry for this key post?

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.