In response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, when BP spilled five million barrels of oil into the Gulf and caused lasting, far-reaching economic damage to region as well as the deaths of 11 people, the EPA suspended and debarred 25 BP entities from obtaining new federal contracts in a November 2012 settlement.
Until now, that is.
The EPA just announced a new deal that allows the oil-drenched corporate criminal to start bidding for and receiving new federal contracts. Federal contracts have been a major source of revenue for BP. At the time of the ban, BP held at least $1.34 billion in federal contracts.
The five-year agreement will require BP to retain an independent auditor approved by the EPA to conduct an annual review and report on the company’s compliance. BP will also drop a lawsuit filed against the EPA in federal court in Texas tied to the suspension.
The deal conveniently comes just in time for the Interior Department's scheduled lease sale for 40 million acres in the Gulf.
Watchdog/public interest group Public Citizen condemned the deal:
“Today’s announcement lets a corporate felon and repeat offender off the hook for its crimes against people and the environment,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the group’s energy program. “This is a company that was on criminal probation at the time of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, and it has failed to prove that it is a responsible contractor deserving of lucrative taxpayer deals.”However, (surprise, surprise) Senator Mary Landrieu (D-OIL), the new chair of the Energy Committee, was very pleased.
“EPA never should have made this decision in the first place,” she said in a statement. “BP has rightly been held responsible in a court of law and should continue to make whole the individuals and businesses that were impacted by the oil spill, but barring them from entering new contracts on top of that amounted to double jeopardy and set a terrible precedent that I hope will not be repeated.”As they say, what's an oil spill between friends?
“The good news is that BP will now be able to participate in next week’s lease sale that will bring much-needed revenue to Louisiana and other oil-producing states along the Gulf Coast, as well as boost business for the region’s small and independent service and supply companies,” she said.