Oil giant BP is facing a criminal investigation into allegations that it broke laws in the lead up to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
It was already facing millions of dollars in compensation payments and clean-up costs after admitting 'full responsibilty' for the spill, in which more than 20 million gallons of oil have so far been released.
The US Justice Department will look at whether BP broke various environmental regulations on protecting habitats, water and wildlife against pollution.
Not the solution
However, environmental groups both within the US and abroad argue that any criminal case against BP is not the solution. The Sierra Club said the disaster was a 'wake up call' to government to act against the oil industry.
'We need to stop letting the oil industry call the shots and standing in the way of policies that would promote clean energy and safe, healthy jobs instead of more aggressive and dangerous forms of oil. It's time to move beyond oil,' said executive director Michael Brune.
Greenpeace agreed and said the US could not 'drill its way' to energy independence or security through offshore drilling projects. It said oil lobbyists should not be allowed to block moves towards cleaner forms of energy.
'As long as we continue to let oil companies like BP and Shell bully politicians, write our energy laws and bribe regulators, we will remain addicted to their dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.
'President Obama should cut the polluter lobbyists out of the debate so we can finally move toward a clean energy revolution that is good for the country, not just for corporations,' said oceans campaign director John Hocevar
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