Following the largest criminal fine ever levied upon an organization in United Sates history, British Petroleum, which was responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, has been temporarily banned from pursuing any further contracts in the US following a ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The ruling, which came Wednesday via statement published on the EPA’s website, said that BP and all its affiliates have been temporarily suspended from seeking new contracts with the federal government owing to the company’s “lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company's conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout.” The statement added that while existing contracts will continue to be in effect, the present suspension, though “temporary,” will continue until the EPA sees it fit that BP meets “federal business standards.”
The Deepwater Horizon incident is noted to be the worst ecological disaster on record in the US, pumping out millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing inestimable damage in addition to claiming the lives of 11 workers when the oil rig exploded. On Nov. 15, BP was slapped with a fine of $4.5 million by the US government, the largest it has ever meted out, adding to the billions it has already paid in compensation as well as pleading guilty to 14 criminal counts.
Reacting to the news, BP was confident that the suspensions would be lifted soon as since the disaster it has been awarded 50 new leases in the Gulf of Mexico by the federal government, having met the standards of the EPA. In a statement, BP said, "The EPA has informed BP that it is preparing a proposed administrative agreement that, if agreed upon, would effectively resolve and lift this temporary suspension. Over the past five years, BP has invested more than $52 billion in the United States—more than any other oil and gas company, and more than it invests in any other country where it operates. On top of this business investment, BP has to date spent more than $14 billion in operational response and clean-up costs."
The temporary suspension has prevented BP from bidding on any new leases in the Gulf of Mexico, 20 million acres of which went up for auction on Wednesday.
Speaking about the EPA ruling, Congressman said, "When someone recklessly crashes a car, their license and keys are taken away. The wreckage of BP's recklessness is still sitting at the bottom of the ocean and this kind of time out is an appropriate element of the suite of criminal, civil and economic punishments that BP should pay for their disaster.", senior member of the Natural Resources Committee,