AP sources: Ex-Fla. Sen. Graham and former EPA chief Reilly to head panel on Gulf oil spill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has tapped former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and ex-EPA Administrator William K. Reilly to lead a presidential commission investigating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The White House was expected to make the announcement Saturday. The choices were confirmed ahead of time by two people familiar with the decision who would speak only on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement.

Graham is a Democrat and Reilly served in a Republican administration, a bipartisan model similar to other high-level investigative panels. The White House has said it was modeling the commission on panels that investigated the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster and the nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island in 1979.

Graham served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005 and previously served two terms as Florida governor. Reilly served as EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush.

The commission's inquiry will range from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of government agencies that oversee drilling.

The appointment of the pair was welcomed by environmental groups, lawmakers and others.

"This independent commission will guarantee a transparent and accountable investigation so the public can have complete trust in the integrity of its findings," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., who had called for creation of such a panel.

A number of other investigations are already under way into circumstances surrounding the massive leak that began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in fire April 20, killing 11 people and later sinking.