Published: Jun 01, 2010 9:29 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 01, 2010 6:29 PM EDT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder says federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Holder would not specify Tuesday which companies or individuals might be the targets of the probe. He says federal clean air and pollution laws give him the power to open the investigations.

Holder met with attorneys general from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday.

Oil hits Alabama beach

Tar balls, possibly from the massive BP oil spill, have begun washing up on an Alabama beach. Capt. Scott Bannon of the Alabama Marine Resources on Alabama's Dauphin Island confirmed Tuesday afternoon that crews were cleaning tar from the white sands and turquoise waters of the popular vacation destination.

Bannon referred questions about the cleanup, amount of tar on the beach and plans to contain the mess to BP officials in Mobile, Ala. Bannon said the company and officials at the response headquarters in that city were in charge of responding to oiled beaches.

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said in a national news briefing that tar balls had been reported on the Alabama beach.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says BP was not forthcoming about the possibility oil could leak faster as a result of the latest attempt to contain the Gulf spill. White House Energy Adviser Carol Browner said over the weekend that cutting and capping the damaged oil riser could result in a temporary 20 percent increase in the flow, a figure Gibbs repeated Tuesday.

BP has said it didn't expect a significant increase in flow from the cutting and capping plan. Gibbs said in Tuesday's White House briefing that he was not comfortable with BP's statements. He said he did not believe the company was forthcoming on that issue. But he didn't answer directly when asked whether the White House trusts BP.