BP’s ability to avoid accountability for its chronic misconduct — as demonstrated by the company’s recent deal with the government to lift its suspension from federal contracting — seemingly has no bounds.
Also seemingly boundless:
The oil company’s apparent disregard for the American people, the environment and even its own employees.
That’s why the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen is not backing down in demanding the EPA again suspend BP.
The group has compiled a list of the latest conduct by BP that warrants banning the corporation from doing business with the U.S. government:
Contaminating Lake Michigan: On March 24 — a mere 11 days after cutting the deal to resolve its suspension — BP’s refinery in Whiting, Indiana, spilled 1,638 gallons of crude oil into Lake Michigan.
Polluting Chicago: The same refinery is the source of materials that are polluting Chicago’s Southeast Side neighborhood and coating resident’s homes and lungs with petroleum coke (a byproduct of refining tar sands oil).
Scamming Minnesota Consumers: This past February, the Minnesota government filed a lawsuit against BP, alleging that the company scammed the state out of $25 million. BP received state funds to clean up its leaking underground oil storage tanks — costs the corporation also was compensated for through insurance claims.
Duping Oregon Consumers: In January, a jury found that BP West Coast Products violated state law by charging a fee to consumers who use debit cards to pay for gas without alerting them.
Shortchanging Employee Pensions: More than 450 BP America employees claim that the corporation is reneging on their pension plans by up to 75 percent, then lying about it and actively working against employees to avoid paying them promised retirement benefits.
Reneging on its “Commitment to the Gulf”: Over two years ago BP negotiated, drafted and signed an agreement to compensate businesses and individuals that suffered economic losses associated with the company’s Deepwater Horizon spill. Now, just two weeks short of the 4th anniversary of the disaster, BP is refusing to pay any and all legitimate claims. Worse, in a recently released Annual Report, BP’s Chairman of the Board, Carl-Henric Svanberg, says that the company “will fight through the courts … for however long it takes” in order to escape responsibility.
Then there are the myriad of other unseemly acts and business practices in addition to those enumerated above (such as BP’s recent purchase of a Houston refinery to allegedly skirt U.S. law, accusations of price-fixing, surprising complicity in the Exxon Valdez fiasco, and the hiring of online mercenaries to silence critics) which provide the EPA with ample cause for suspension — a tool put in place to protect the public interest from bad corporate actors like BP.
Failing to use this powerful tool against irresponsible corporate actors, especially chronic offenders like BP, puts the public’s interest at risk and sends a clear message to contractors that no matter how egregious their actions, the U.S. government will continue to do business with them.
It’s time to remind EPA regulators that they are not subjects of an oil-garchy, but responsible for protecting the environment and the public interest. If the agency will not disbar BP, perhaps consideration should be given to extending the reach of the Monroe Doctrine by application of The BP Corollary? As new evidence of the long term environmental damage wrought by BP comes to light, the time to act is now, before it is too late.
Let’s take a stand against corporate bullies and the crimes they commit.
As a plaintiff attorney, Tom Young has been at the forefront of some of the Nation's worst disasters. In 2015, he was judicially appointed to represent over 200,000 plaintiffs in an allocation proceeding involving a $1.24 billion settlement with Deepwater Horizon contractor Halliburton and rig owner Transocean. Currently, he's focused on representing numerous communities across the country that have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic and are now seeking damages from drug manufacturers and distributors.