U.S. Opens Criminal Inquiry Into Oil Spill

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had begun civil and criminal investigations into the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as the deepening crisis threatened to define President Obama’s second year in office.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in New Orleans that he planned to “prosecute to the fullest extent of the law” any person or entity that the Justice Department determines has broken the law in connection with the oil spill. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 120 points shortly after Mr. Holder’s announcement as energy stocks tumbled on expectations of the federal investigations. BP lost 15 percent of its market value during the day’s trading.

BP and government officials said flatly for the first time that they had abandoned any further plans to try to plug the well, and would instead try to siphon the leaking oil and gas to the surface until relief wells can stop the flow, most likely not before August.

New York Times
6/1/10