Sen. Landrieu in 2011, championing the RESTORE Act, which will direct 80 percent of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill fines to Gulf Coast states and restoration projects

FacebookSen. Mary Landrieu wants to set BP free.

Pity poor BP.

That’s the message from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La). She is among the lawmakers who say the federal government needs to cut the company some slack and allow it to bid on Gulf Coast drilling leases when they’re auctioned off by the Department of Interior later this month. The company was temporarily banned by the EPA in November from bidding on new leases because of the “lack of business integrity” it demonstrated “with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response.”

That ban has now dragged into its fourth hellish month and has so far prevented the company from bidding at one entire auction. Enough is enough, as far as Landrieu is concerned.

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“This [Obama] administration is persecuting the oil-and-gas industry, and I have had enough,” Landrieu told The Advocate newspaper. “They are regulated to the teeth now.”

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During interviews with local newspapers, Landrieu has been using the expression “double jeopardy” to describe what she characterizes as excessive punishment being meted out to BP by the Interior Department, Justice Department, and EPA. From The Advocate:

Landrieu repeated that BP did not ask for help and her position is a matter of principle and not about BP specifically. She said she is concerned about the “chilling effect” it could have on other businesses such as the petrochemical industry and associated small businesses.

BP is paying $20 billion in escrow, she noted, not to mention more than $4 billion in criminal penalties and the ongoing trial to determine civil fines and penalties that could exceed $17 billion.

BP’s profits have fallen due to fines, cleanup costs, and other fallout from the 2010 disaster that the company inflicted upon America. The company’s after-tax earnings fell from $25.7 billion in 2011 to $11.6 billion last year, IndustryWeek reported.

With all of these terrible troubles befalling BP, is it perhaps time that the government finally cut it some damned slack? Some people apparently think not. An example from The Advocate:

Marylee Orr, executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Network, said she is “astonished” that Landrieu does not see the suspension as appropriate given that the 2010 oil leak was the nation’s worst man-made environmental disaster. Orr also said the comments come as “really bad timing” during the beginning of the BP civil trial.

“It’s very disturbing for everyone who’s here,” Orr said.