The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today it was temporarily debarring BP, suspending the company from receiving new contracts with the federal government based on its "lack of business integrity" concerning the 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers, and related oil spill.
This may prove to be a move that could ultimately cost the company billions in revenue and could end its drilling in federally controlled oil fields.
Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company's executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways.
But days ago, in an unannounced move, the EPA suspended negotiations with the petroleum giant over whether it would be barred from federal contracts because of the environmental crimes it committed before the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials said they are putting the talks on hold until they learn more about the British company's responsibility for the plume of oil that is spreading across the Gulf.
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