Federal authorities open criminal, civil investigations - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Federal authorities open criminal, civil investigations into oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Attorney General Eric Holder says federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Holder would not specify Tuesday which companies or individuals might be the targets of the probe. He says federal clean air and pollution laws give him the power to open the investigations.

Holder met with attorneys general from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says an independent commission investigating the Gulf oil spill will thoroughly examine the disaster and its causes to ensure that the nation never faces such a catastrophe again.

Obama spoke in the Rose Garden after the group's first meeting and pledged that necessary changes will be made.

The president says that if laws are insufficient, they'll be changed. He says that if government oversight wasn't tough enough, that will change too. And Obama said if laws were broken, those who were responsible will be prosecuted.

Obama says the leaders of the commission have his support to follow the facts wherever they lead.

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GULF COAST (WKOW) -- Action on three fronts today in what has already become the worst-ever U.S. oil spill.

First, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to visit the Gulf Coast to see areas affected by the oil spill and meet with state attorneys general and federal prosecutors. BP could face criminal charges. Several senators have asked the Justice Department to determine whether criminal or civil laws were broken. Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Schumer plans to introduce a bill that would repeal a law capping BP's liability for the oil spill at $27 million.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama meets for the first time today with the two co-chairs of the special commission he's forming to investigate the incident.

And, while the politics plays out on land, BP's robot subs are hard at work on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, preparing to trim the leaking pipe in hopes of installing a newly designed cap.

As early as Wednesday, BP is expected to try the cut-and-cap process to put a lid on the leaking wellhead so oil can be siphoned to the surface.

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