TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, kept out of a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the BP oil spill, said Tuesday the federal government's response to the disaster has not been competent.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with state attorneys general Jim Hood of Mississippi, Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana and Troy King of Alabama, but did not invite McCollum. Holder was in New Orleans to announce criminal charges aren't out of the question.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing an oil spill that is ongoing.
"Holder's decision to exclude the state of Florida from today's meeting of attorneys general on the impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is concerning," McCollum said.
"The Administration has not demonstrated clear competence in responding to this unprecedented environmental disaster since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig."
McCollum also expressed disappointment that President Barack Obama and Holder don't "appear to see" the incident as a threat to the state's economy and environment "even though according to the latest tracking reports, the oil spill could likely impact our coast within days."
Florida has the most coastline in the continental United States. McCollum is one of five state attorneys general who formed a coalition to respond to the spill.
"Fortunately, our office has been engaged with British Petroleum since the onset of this disaster, pursuing relief for Floridians and Florida businesses and making the company aware of our intent to aggressively recoup all costs to the state," he said.
McCollum, a Republican, is running for governor.
Holder said there are a wide range of possible violations that have been committed.
"If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be forceful in our response," he said. "We have already instructed all relevant parties to preserve any documents that may shed light on the facts surrounding this disaster."
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.