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Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday that his office is using "the full weight" of its investigative power to pursue criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Among the statutes his office is examining: the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act. Criminal prosecutors are also examining possible false statements, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

Eleven workers died the day the rig exploded and there could also be charges under federal worker safety laws.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 only require proof that an oil spill occurred and that BP is responsible, whether the company intended to discharge oil or not. The government can use the laws to recover cleanup costs and damages, which are capped at $75 million under the 1990 law -- and to try to convince a judge to order BP to properly clean up the spill. The Clean Water Act also provides for penalties of up to $4,300 per barrel. (Wash Post, 6/1/2010)