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The attorney general of the Department of Justice, Eric Holder, is on his way to the Gulf Coast with two other attorneys, Assistant Attorney General for Environmental and Natural Resources Ignacia Moreno, and Assistant Attorney General For The Civil Division Tony West.

The Justice Department announced on April 30 that a team of Justice Department lawyers had been sent to "monitor" the spill and make sure environmental laws were enforced.

"The British Petroleum oil spill has already cost lives and created a major environmental incident," Holder said in a statement at the time. "The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers."

The question then becomes---will they look into the reports of BP refusing to give their workers protection, seeking to destroy evidence, and their lies about the respiratory illnesses by these workers?

Hopefully so. Here's more on this story below:

While a criminal investigation into the spill is a certainty, especially given the deaths of 11 workers in an explosion and fire which caused the oil rig to sink on April 22, pursuing the criminal probe at the moment is a difficult matter given that Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Administration officials are working hand-in-hand with the well’s owner, BP, to coordinate the response.

However, Holder’s visit to the area sends a highly visible signal that the administration is getting tough with BP, something many area residents and political analysts have been urging the Obama administration to do.

Meanwhile, President Obama will be checking in on his bipartisan commission to see what the latest status on its formation is:

President Obama will be checking in Tuesday to see what condition his BP commission is in. He'll meet in the late morning with the body's co-chairmen, former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator William Reilly. Their chat will be closed-press, but the president will make remarks after the meeting.

Graham told the St. Petersburg Times that he and Reilly had spent three days last week doing some initial preparatory work. "This is probably one of the most important environmental issues that the U.S. has faced maybe in my lifetime," he said.

Also, let us remember that BP has one of the worst safety records of any oil company in the United States, and was found guilty of numerous violations. At what point do we stop finding BP guilty of these violations, and instead shut the company down and bar it from ever working in the United States?

And hopefully, the Department of Justice is aware that BP is trying to ask for all pre-trial issues to be handled by a judge in Houston that has very close ties to the oil industry. We all need for justice to be served in one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the United States. It would be a crime if the executives of BP and the company itself were allowed to get away scot-free in this crime against nature because they were able to choose a biased judge.

UPDATE: This now has turnedinto a criminal investigation of BP, according to latest news report from Attorney General Holder. (h/t Terre).

NEW ORLEANS -- Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the nation's worst oil spill, and BP lost billions in market value when shares dropped in the first trading day since the company failed yet again to plug the gusher.

Originally posted to slinkerwink on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:33 AM PDT.

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