December 3, 2013 / 7:36 PM / 4 years ago

UK, trade groups tell US court ban against BP unfair

HOUSTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may have been too harsh when it banned BP Plc from lucrative federal contracts as punishment for its 2010 Macondo oil spill, the United Kingdom and prominent business groups said on Tuesday.

The U.K. government, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the EPA has caused regulatory uncertainty and soured the broader investment climate by barring the British major from acquiring new leases in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico or entering deals to supply the U.S. military with fuels.

In briefs submitted to a U.S. court, the groups made clear they support a lawsuit BP filed in August to challenge the ban - which impacts new contracts but not existing ones.

“EPA’s disqualification and suspension of multiple BP entities may have been excessive,” the United Kingdom’s brief said.

A year ago the EPA sprung the suspension on BP, citing its “lack of business integrity” after the well blowout that killed 11 workers and gushed millions of barrels of oil into coastal waters in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

The case is BP Exploration & Production Co et al v. McCarthy et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 13-02349.

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