Help is on the way: The White House is establishing an independent commission to learn more about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This panel will follow in the footsteps of similar panels created for the investigation of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident and the Challenger shuttle explosion, and will not contain any current members of the government. President Obama will issue an executive order “in coming days” to create the panel and will investigate industry practices; rig safety; federal, state, and local regulatory regimes; federal government oversight; and environmental review. Congressional hearings also opened on Monday with concerns voiced about future accidents, dispersants, and environmental fallout. On an optimistic note, BP’s chief operating officer said he was “very encouraged” about the efforts to capture oil through a tube the company successfully inserted into the leak. Earlier in the day, the Interior Department's top regulator stepped down following criticism of his cozy relationship with industry officials.