BP’s Case for `Responsibility’ at EPA

Photograph by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Environmental Protection Agency has slapped BP Plc with a temporary ban on new government contracts, telling the world the company showed a “lack of business integrity” after the nation’s largest oil spill, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, BP wants to show it’s accountable and dependable so the EPA will lift the ban.

It has dropped more than 100 pages on the agency to demonstrate its “present responsibility.”

The phrasing comes directly from the jargon-laden federal acquisition regulations, the rules that govern contracting. Agencies are supposed to award orders only to responsible firms or individuals.

An agency procurement official can suspend a contractor based on evidence of the “commission of any other offense indicating a lack of business integrity or business honesty that seriously and directly affects the present responsibility” of the vendor.

The British oil company on Nov. 15 reached a settlement with the Justice Department, agreeing to pay $4.5 billion to end all criminal charges and resolve securities claims relating to the 2010 Gulf well blowout, which killed 11 people.

Scott Amey, general counsel for the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight, said he’s concerned that the government considers BP irresponsible so long after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The company “has had years to put its house in order,” Amey said.

EPA said the temporary ban will remain in place until BP can provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that it meets federal business standards. The company has said it expects a draft agreement from the agency soon, which would lift the suspension.

“I’m not surprised that BP is doing its due diligence to convince the government that it is a responsible company,” Amey said. “However, the EPA should be watchful of promises, especially this late in the game. A company’s culture can’t change overnight or over the course of a few days.”


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