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BP Oil Spill: Justice Dept. Weighs Criminal Charges

By Jason Beahm on June 08, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019
Attorney General Eric Holder is considering possible criminal charges in the BP oil spill. Holder stated that he plans to "prosecute to the fullest extent of the law" anyone who has broken a law in connection with the spill. At the moment, it does not appear that any charges have been filed or subpoenas issued. 

The Obama administration has taken an increasingly aggressive tone towards those responsible for the spill. The possibility of criminal charges is seen as the next rational step in a crisis that is beginning to overshadow President Obama's agenda.

Although this fact is occasionally lost in the focus on the damage the spill continues to create, it is important to remember that 11 people died in the rig explosion. 

The investigation is now looking into violations of the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as criminal charges, the New York Times reports. 

"BP will cooperate with any inquiry that the Department of Justice undertakes ..." the company said in a statement.

The administration has become increasingly vocal in what is becoming not only an environmental disaster, but a public relations disaster as well. Challenging the situation is the fact that the problem cannot be solved by sheer will or manpower, it will hinge on engineering expertise, something that is not usually the specialty of the White House. 

George Haddow, a disaster management expert, believes that in terms of situation and scale, it is one of the most challenging and unique situations he has seen, "'s one that doesn't stop -- it's as if Katrina sat on top of New Orleans for six weeks without going away," said Haddow.   

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