This Should Be Frustrating to Watch

The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation of BP and the other corporations involved in the oil spill.

PORT FOURCHON, La. — 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.

Investors presumably realized the best chance to stop the leak was months away and there was no end in sight to the cleanup. As BP settled in for the long-term, Holder announced the criminal probe, though he would not specify the companies or individuals that might be targeted.

"We will closely examine the actions of those involved in the spill. If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response," Holder said in New Orleans.

I'm sure at the end of the day there will be some sort of fine that will ultimately be a very small chunk out of BP's massive profit margin. And if Exxon Valdez is any sort of precedent, BP will just endlessly appeal any ruling until the fines are whittled down to nothing.

I have zero confidence that BP will pay the deserved punishment for this.