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Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
Holder would not specify which companies or individuals might be the targets of the probe. He said federal clean air and pollution laws give him the power to open the investigations.
Federal agencies, including the FBI, are participating in the probe and "if we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be forceful in our response," Holder told reporters after meeting with state and federal prosecutors in New Orleans.
In Washington, President Barack Obama vowed that if laws were broken in the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, those responsible would be prosecuted and pledged changes to avert future disasters.
Obama, speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden after meeting the co-chairs of a new oil spill commission, said his administration was ready to step up government response to the spill, pledging to "triple the manpower" in the area.
"My solemn pledge is we will bring those responsible to justice," Obama said.
He also said energy giant BP would be held accountable for financial losses from what he called the "greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history."