If you walked into your place of employment one day and — oops — were to blame for a massive explosion that killed a number of employees and which led to a months-long toxic spill killing an uncountable number of animals and crippling the local economy — how long do you think it would take for you to be fired? Fourteen seconds? Fifteen?
Well, if you’re an oil company who does business with the government, you’ll be fine for years. But then you should expect a severe slap on the wrist.
BP, which pleaded guilty to criminal charges after the worst U.S. oil spill in 2010, will be temporarily suspended from winning new contracts from the federal government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement today.
The EPA said the ban was imposed because the company’s conduct during the Deepwater Horizon disaster showed a lack of integrity. The action, which doesn’t affect existing contracts, will stand until BP can demonstrate it meets business standards set by the government, the EPA said.
BP is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the U.S. Department of Defense.
So, the government didn’t really fire BP as such, it just blocked new business. That massively lucrative contract with the DoD isn’t touched.
The Hill has a longer quote from the EPA:
“EPA is taking this action due to BP’s lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company’s conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response, as reflected by the filing of a criminal information,” EPA said in a Wednesday statement.
This is the key point. It’s not the explosion and deaths and the spill and the economic damage — it’s how the company responded to those events. The motivation for this action appears to be the deception and spinning during the spill and attempts to gloss over that behavior during the criminal trial.
Which is like you going into work, bearing responsibility for those deaths and that destruction, and then not getting a promotion because you tried to downplay it. Harsh.
Update: Here is the full statement from the EPA.