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14 August 2013 | Will Green
Oil giant BP is suing the US government over a ban on bidding for new US federal government contracts in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed a ban on BP in November 2012 after it deemed the company not fit to carry out government work following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which killed 11 people and caused huge environmental damage in 2010.
In court papers filed with a district court in Texas, BP described the ban as “punitive, arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of EPA’s discretion” and states: “This court should declare the suspension and disqualification null, void and unenforceable and enjoin EPA from enforcing them.”
The papers stated: “[The] EPA’s suspension includes 21 different BP entities, nearly all of which had no involvement in the accident or its aftermath. EPA’s decision to suspend did not address the overwhelming evidence and record of BP’s present responsibility as a government contractor and leaseholder, and did not attempt to explain how or why immediate suspension was necessary to protect the public interest, as federal law requires.”
BP has paid billions in fines and damages since the disaster and further legal action is taking place.
The firm has existing contracts worth more than $1.34 billion (£866 million) with the US government to supply fuel, lubricants and gas, which were unaffected by the ban.
Geoff Morrell, head of communications at BP US, said: “We believe that the EPA’s action here is inappropriate and unjustified as a matter of law and policy, and we are pursuing our right to seek relief in federal court.
“At the same time, we remain open to a reasonable settlement with the EPA.”
Following the disaster, BP pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of ships officers relating to the 11 deaths, one misdemeanour count under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanour count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.