LONDON — BP has sued the United States government for allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do its job.
The EPA last year barred BP from competing for new federal contracts in the wake of the energy giant’s catastrophic 2010 oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The EPA’s decision came less than a year after BP agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges stemming from the spill, which deluged Gulf shorelines with nearly five million barrels worth of oil.
BP called the decision “punitive, arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of the EPA’s discretion,” before filing suit in federal court to overturn the contract bans.
“These tree-huggers have already cost us billions of dollars,” said a spokesman for BP. “How many seagulls do you have to scrub with your bare hands before people know you’re sorry? Enough is enough.”
The Obama administration said that the agency acted without its permission and promised to reprimand senior EPA officials as well as Administrator Gina McCarthy. A statement issued by the White House promised to “put the EPA back in its place.”
“We sincerely apologize to our friends at British Petroleum for any inconvenience that may have resulted from the EPA’s overzealous, unilateral decision. We consider them a rogue agency that evidently forgot who they work for,” read the statement.
As a peace offering, President Obama offered BP first dibs on the Keystone XL pipeline and gave the company permission to “get [its] frack on.”
BP has for many years been one of the US military’s biggest suppliers of fuel, with government contracts worth an estimated $1.34 billion. In addition to its government contracts, the company spends millions of dollars each year lobbying for energy causes.
BP CEO Bob Dudley addressed the media via teleconference, saying that he had always considered the US government one of the company’s “best friends,” and that the company decided to sue because “the contract bans felt like a stab in the back.”
“The government usually does a good job of keeping the EPA in check. We were sorry to see that they let things go this far, and we decided that a lawsuit was necessary to send a message,” said Dudley.
Dudley also placed blame on the public for pushing agencies like the EPA to hold oil companies accountable. “People always act like we spilled their oil into the ocean. We’re the ones who have to spend billions of dollars on lawsuits and cleanup. The public needs to understand that if they want to have gas in their cars, sometimes they have to live with gas in their oceans.”