Environmental group asks Obama administration to stop doing business with BP

04/01/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Center for Biological Diversity, BP, BP disaster, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, Barack Obama, Environmental Protection Agency


Jaclyn Lopez.

photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Feb. 2013).

An environmental advocacy group is asking the Obama administration to cut off the fossil fuel company BP from government contracts.

In March, nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency allowed BP to begin bidding on oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and other business with the government.

Now, the Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning the Obama administration to cut its ties with BP.

WMNF interviewed Jaclyn Lopez, staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s St. Petersburg, Florida, office.

"On Monday we () asked the Environmental Protection Agency to debar or suspend all future contracts with BP and it's subsidiaries for it's pattern and practice of demonstrating that it's not a responsible party."

What has happened recently with BP, specifically as far as the government allowing it to explore and this oil spill in Lake Michigan?

"Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill the EPA began an investigation with BP into whether it should continue to do contracts with it. It determined that it should suspend future contracts with BP and that was back in 2012. A few weeks ago, after being sued by BP, the EPA reached an agreement with BP allowing BP to once again engage in government contracts which includes the leasing of some tracts in the Gulf of Mexico. That was just two weeks ago and a few days ago another BP oil spill occurred, this time in Lake Michigan where as much as 1500 gallons of crude oil spilled into Lake Michigan, supposedly from a malfunction in a distillation unit at the Whiting refinery. So Monday's action is asking the EPA to once again look at who it's doing business with and protect America, our environment and our citizens from BP as it continues to demonstrate that doing business with it is just simply too risky."

Does the EPA have a history of putting on hiatus or disbarment these companies that have spills? In other words what type of success do you think you'll get from this request?

"The EPA does have a history of debarring or suspending companies that show that they're not responsible parties and it's done this with BP in the past. There have been a few instances where based on BP's failures or malfeasance that the EPA has initiated different types of proceedings against it. For example, there was an incident in Texas that resulted in the death of 15 individuals and damaged a refinery into the environment and in that instance the EPA did debar BP and fined it $62 million and it was convicted of a felony violation under the Clean Air Act. We know that BP does have a history of finding itself in these situations where it is the responsible party for oil spills or ruptures in pipelines that it's supposed to be maintaining. There were additional instances for example in Alaska in 2006 BP was responsible for a spill of 200,000 gallons on the North Slope which is the largest spill the area has seen. The department of Justice found that BP was criminally negligent in knowing about conditions that let the pipeline deteriorate and that BP had ignored warnings about corrosion. While it was still on probation from that incident in 2008 it was a responsible party in another Alaska BP pipeline, this time a natural gas pipeline that caused an explosion. We hope that the EPA will act swiftly. We've seen that BP has this history of engaging in oil exploration and development and is simply not able to keep the oil and gas in the pipelines that it builds and maintains so in order to protect the public from BP we're asking the EPA to step in and take action and say 'we don't want to do business with you anymore.' "

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