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April 18, 2014

Four Years After BP’s Deepwater Horizon Dumped 200 Million Gallons of Oil Into Gulf, 50-Plus Citizen Groups Call on EPA to Extend Oil Giant’s Suspension From Government Contracts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the approach of the fourth anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, more than 50 conservation and public interest groups – the majority representing Gulf and Lake Michigan communities – today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its premature decision to reinstate BP as a federal contractor for oil exploration, drilling and production.

Though the long-term impacts of the spill on the Gulf are still largely unknown, the EPA last month lifted its suspension of BP entities from federal contracts, deeming the corporation once again fit to do business with the government.

In a letter to be delivered today to the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., the organizations said that allowing BP to resume business with the U.S. government is irresponsible and undermines federal laws intended to protect the public from reckless corporate contractors.

“Four years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, there is no evidence that the corporate culture that led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history has changed,” said Allison Fisher, outreach director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “To the contrary, BP’s most recent oil spill in Lake Michigan suggests that threats of debarment alone do nothing to deter the negligent practices of corporations like BP.”

The groups delivered the signatures of about 60,000 people from across the country calling for the agency to use its authority to disqualify BP and its subsidiaries from federal contracts for the duration of the corporation’s five-year probationary period. The groups say the action is necessary to protect the public interest, environment and workers from the corporation responsible for the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which began on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers and triggered the worst oil spill in American history.

“BP devastated the Gulf and then lied to Congress about it,” said Zack Malitz, campaign manager at CREDO. “There's no reason to trust this criminal corporation to do anything but negligently endanger public health and the environment.”

Letting a chronic offender like BP off the hook weakens the effectiveness of government debarment and suspensions and sends a clear message to contractors that no matter how egregious their actions, the U.S. government will continue to do business with them, the groups said. Incidents at BP’s facilities have resulted in the deaths of 26 people in the past 12 years, and the largest oil spills on both Alaska’s North Slope and in the Gulf of Mexico. Late last month, more than 1,600 gallons of crude oil leaked into Lake Michigan from BP’s Whiting refinery in Northwest Indiana.

“The days where BP’s actions go unpunished and its falsehoods go unchallenged are numbered. The American people are not willing to give BP another mulligan,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “BP repeatedly struggles with the truth; just this week, on the fourth anniversary of the catastrophic spill, BP claimed that active cleanup had come to a close despite reports from the Coast Guard that the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is not over by a long shot.”

Read the letter here (PDF).

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