It’s Time For The EPA To Shut Down BP’s Disaster Capitalism

The Obama administration is considering whether to bar oil disaster giant BP from federal contracts. Because of BP’s record of criminal misconduct and environmental disasters, the Environmental Protection Agency has been weighing whether to impose discretionary debarment, which would prohibit BP from drilling on federal land and waters and from government fuel contracts, ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten reports:

Days ago, in an unannounced move, the EPA suspended negotiations with the petroleum giant over whether it would be barred from federal contracts because of the environmental crimes it committed before the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials said they are putting the talks on hold until they learn more about the British company’s responsibility for the plume of oil that is spreading across the Gulf. The EPA said in a statement that, according to its regulations, it can consider banning BP from future contracts after weighing “the frequency and pattern of the incidents, corporate attitude both before and after the incidents, changes in policies, procedures, and practices.”

CREDO Action has begun a campaign to call on EPA to “use the regulatory tools at its disposal to make BP pay”:

If BP is hit with discretionary debarment, the company would lose valuable contracts for selling fuel to the military and would be prohibited from obtaining or renewing drilling leases on federal land. EPA could also cancel BP’s current federal leases. The impact on BP’s bottom line could be in the billions of dollars. Neither Congress, nor President Obama, nor Interior Secretary Salazar have taken steps to truly hold BP accountable. It’s up to EPA to use the regulatory tools at its disposal to make BP pay.


Debarment would be a major move by the Obama administration to punish this foreign oil giant for destroying the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s 22,000 oil and natural gas wells, many in federal lands and waters, produce 39 percent of its revenue each year — $16 billion. BP’s federal fuel contracts have been “worth roughly $4.6 billion over the last decade.”

During that period of record profits, BP is also responsible for:

— A felony conviction for illegally dumping hazardous waste down a well hole to cut costs in October 2000

— A felony conviction for an explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 workers on March 23, 2005

— A misdemeanor conviction for a pipeline break in Prudhoe Bay that produced the largest ever oil spill on Alaska’s North Slope (200,000 gallons) in March 2006