The Obama administration put a temporary stop to new federal contracts with British oil company BP today, citing the company's "lack of business integrity" and criminal proceedings stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The action by the Environmental Protection Agency bars BP and its affiliates from new government contracts for an indefinite period, but won't affect existing contracts. In a further blow to the company, BP will be disqualified from winning new leases to drill for oil or gas on taxpayer-owned land until the suspension is lifted.
The EPA said the suspension was standard practice when a criminal case raises responsibility questions about a company. The suspension came the same day two BP rig supervisors and a former executive were scheduled to be arraigned on criminal charges stemming from the deadly explosion. "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," the agency said. BP announced earlier this month that it will plead guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of Congress, and other charges and will pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties. (Read more British Petroleum stories.)