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Jun 232010

From Green Right Now Reports

Richard Lazarus

A prominent Georgetown University law professor has been selected  to serve as the executive director of the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Richard Lazarus, the Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Professor of Law at Georgetown, will lead the staff of the commission and work at the direction of its co-chairs — former two-term Florida Gov. and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly — and the other commission members.

Lazarus specializes in environmental law and has participated in 40 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  For the past three summers, he has co-taught a course on the history of the Supreme Court of the United States with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.  Professor Lazarus worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, both in the Environment and Natural Resources Division (from 1979 to 1983) and the Solicitor General’s Office (from 1986 through 1989), where he was Assistant to the Solicitor General. He also serves as Faculty Director of the Supreme Court Institute.

He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in economics at the University of Illinois.

On May 21, 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the commission that is to take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates and how it is regulated.  The commission will examine the facts and circumstances concerning the causes of the Gulf oil spill and develop options for safety and environmental precautions to prevent a similar disaster from happening again.

After naming the other members of the commission last week, the President asked Congress to approve $15 million to fund its work.