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EPA Should Be Applauded for Blocking BP From New Federal Contracts

Nov. 28, 2012

EPA Should Be Applauded for Blocking BP From New Federal Contracts

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Note: Public Citizen in 2010 called for BP to be debarred from federal contracts (see https://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=3459). In addition, thousands have signed a Public Citizen petition supporting such a debarment (see http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=11945).

Public Citizen applauds today’s decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to temporarily block BP PLC from receiving new federal contracts. The agency, which noted in a press release the company’s lack of business integrity, has taken exactly the right step. We additionally applaud the Department of Interior’s indications, in press reports, that it will block BP from new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands.

BP’s recent felony guilty pleas for the deaths of 11 people and the dumping of 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico demanded such an action. The EPA hasn’t released details of the decision, but we believe the following criteria should be part of the debarment order:

– The EPA has defined the debarment period as “temporary,” saying it will last until the company can show that it meets federal business standards. The debarment period must be for the duration of the five-year probation the company received when it pled guilty to criminal violations. Reconsideration of debarment should not occur until after the five-year probation period has concluded.

– The debarment must include all BP subsidiaries.

– While EPA debarment is effective government-wide, individual agencies can request and receive waivers from the debarment order. We urge that no agency – including the Department of Defense – seek or obtain such a waiver.

– If another violation of federal law or regulation occurs during the debarment and probation period, the debarment should become permanent.