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House targets BP in bill involving offshore drilling bans

Ships assist in clean-up and containment near the source of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: Engineers in the Gulf of Mexico say today could be very important toward the permanent plug of the leaky BP oil well a mile beneath the surface. Workers and scientists hope to begin
pushing mud through some lines they created to begin to seal off the well. Meanwhile, the British oil giant is lobbying hard against a plan to ban it from new offshore drilling in the U.S. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to
tighten safety standards for oil drilling. Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live from London this morning to discuss the proposal. Good morning, Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello, Steve.

Chiotakis: What does this bill do?

Beard: Well it doesn't name BP, but BP is pretty obviously the main target. Under one of the bill's provisions, a company would be banned from getting a license to drill offshore in the U.S. if that company had been responsible for the deaths of more than 10 workers over the last seven years. Well 11 workers, sadly, lost their lives in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, so BP rather neatly fills that bill.

Chiotakis: Yeah, singles them out, precisely. How is BP, Stephen, pushing back against the bill?

Beard: They're not doing it publicly, but it's been reported that BP and the British government, in fact, are lobbying behind the scenes, saying that the bill is unconstitutional because it singles out one company for punitive action. Chris Skrebowski of the Peak Oil Consulting Firm says the measure is also rather premature:

Chris Skrebowski: We haven't yet got a formal assessment of how the accident developed. As to who was to blame there's a bit of jumping the gun here, assuming that it was all BP or overwhelmingly BP.

Now the Senate's bill doesn't include this measure, so there's a good chance the ban won't become law. But it does show BP is facing a lot of challenges.

Chiotakis: Marketplace's Stephen Beard, report from London. Stephen, thanks.

Beard: OK, Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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