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Tuesday July 29th 2014

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Outtakes—Releasing BP

The Environmental Protection Agency lifted in March its ban imposed on BP. For me, the decision felt like hearing a serial killer had been granted a pardon and released into our community.

BP’s history shows how it has repeatedly put American lives and our environment at risk. Lifting the ban allows them back in our backyard, the Gulf of Mexico.

BP was in charge of the cleanup of Prince William Sound in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in March 1989 spilling 32 million gallons of crude oil. Today marine life has yet to recover. Oil can still be found under rocks along the shore.

The petroleum company also owned the Texas City Refinery when it exploded in 2005 killing 15 workers, injuring 170 plant workers and the residents of nearby neighborhoods and rocking buildings 10 miles away. The blast was the third fatal accident within a year at the Texas City plant—the third largest refinery in the United States.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the company in September 2005 a record $21.3 million and charged it with 300 health and safety violations in the explosion. Two years later, BP agreed to resolve a criminal investigation into the explosion by pleading guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act, paying a $50 million fine, serving three years of probation, and complying with the terms of the OSHA settlement.

Four years ago the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, spewing 210 million gallons of crude in the Gulf of Mexico before it was capped five months later. Eleven men were killed and their bodies were never recovered.

The EPA ban was imposed in 2012 after the federal agency concluded that BP had not fully corrected problems that led to the well blowout. BP sued to have the suspension lifted. Apparently there is no three-strike rule for oil companies.

A week after the company was allowed once again to drill in the gulf, BP was the high bidder on 24 exploration blocks in the Gulf of Mexico for about $42 million. Six days after that announcement, BP had a malfunction at its Whiting Refinery in Indiana that spilled 755 gallons into Lake Michigan.

The EPA made the correct decision in 2012 when it banned BP from bidding for new leases in our waters. Lifting it was a mistake. BP has a history of cutting corners on safety and environmental regulations. And sadly new spills and malfunctions pop up on a regular basis

How many more spills and mishaps do we have to endure from this megacorporation?