Whole Lotta Probin’ Goin’ On


The Wall Street Journal has run a story that amounts to a mini-guide for the various government investigations into the BP spill. They range from the Justice Department’s criminal investigation to an inquiry by the National Academy of Engineering.

It’s hard to know which of the half-dozen government investigations will really mean anything, but it’s a good guess that the dividing line will be the ability to compel testimony. The presidential commission, for example, can’t issue subpoenas, and already some BP execs have said they’re “too busy” to testify. So far, the big headlines have come from the House hearing and the Houston-based joint hearings by the Bureau of Ocean Energy and U.S. Coast Guard – both of those can compel testimony.

It’s sure to be interesting, given the overlap of those groups, to see how everyone does keeping their stories straight. It’s one thing to run around the Gulf lying whenever it suits your agenda, it’s quite another to offer sworn testimony and face perjury charges.

The WSJ article is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703309704575413120790515804.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEThirdNews

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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