Democratic official: White House to announce new head of agency that regulates oil industry

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is about to announce a new head of the agency that regulates the oil industry, a Democratic official said Tuesday as President Barack Obama moved on several fronts to show control of the catastrophe in the Gulf.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the White House had yet to disclose the news.

It was not immediately clear whether the announcement would come Tuesday night during Obama's prime-time, Oval Office address about the devastating Gulf Coast oil spill.

The White House is also getting ready to provide updated information, based on government measurements, on the volume of oil gushing from BP's well in the Gulf of Mexico, the official said. Amounts have been unclear since BP's leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, and estimates have been repeatedly increased.

Last month, Elizabeth Birnbaum stepped down as director of the Minerals Management Service, a job she had held since July. Her agency has been accused of lax oversight of drilling and cozy ties with industry.

Obama returned Tuesday afternoon from a two-day tour of the Gulf and planned to address the nation Tuesday evening. On Wednesday he holds his first meeting with BP executives.