BP Still Being Awarded Lucrative Government Contracts
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The probation officer, Mary Frances Barnes, said in court documents that the spill amounted to "criminal negligence" under Alaska state law and the federal Clean Water Act and violated the terms of the probation agreement BP signed in November 2007 following a 212,000 gallon oil spill on the North Slope a year earlier. BP has pleaded not guilty to the probation violation charge and is fighting the case in federal court.
Furthermore, last September, BP was found to have violated the terms of a settlement agreement it entered into with government regulators six years ago to make certain safety upgrades at its Texas City refinery, where an explosion in March 2005 killed 15 people and maimed and seriously injured 170 others. The Justice Department refused to pursue a probation revocation case in that incident, opting instead to give BP another year to make the upgrades at the refinery.
McCaskill would not say exactly what the government's "unusual and compelling urgency" is in awarding the fuel contract to Air BP. One possibility is that the jet fuel Air BP is supplying is intended for aircraft leaving Dover Air Force Base carrying cargo to support NATO's air war against Libya. Obama turned over control of the entire Libya operation, known as Operation Odyssey Dawn, to NATO on March 31. But over the past week, NATO has complained that it is running short of munitions.
McCaskill referred questions about whether the jet fuel Air BP is supplying over the next 46 days is being used on aircraft utilized for Libya operations to Dover Air Force Base. Brett Kangas, a spokesman for Dover, said he was unable to obtain answers to specific questions about what aircraft the fuel is being used for and what the mission is.
But a March 31 news release posted on Dover Air Force Base's web site provides some clues. It says Dover has "four C-5M aircraft, all of which are involved in the support of the international crisis in Libya."
"In order for the strike operations implementing the no-fly zone to continue, the 'bullets' have to make it to the fight and that is where Dover Air Force Base delivers," the Dover press release states. "Delivering oversized cargo is the name of the game here at Dover [Air Force Base, Delaware]."
Last Friday, on the same day the Air BP contract was set to begin, unnamed US and NATO officials told The Washington Post NATO is running short on precision bombs and other munitions for the military action that began a little more than a month ago.
"The shortage of European munitions, along with the limited number of aircraft available, has raised doubts among some officials about whether the United States can continue to avoid returning to the air campaign if Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi hangs on to power for several more months," the Post reported.
Kangas noted, however, that there is a possibility the jet fuel could also be used for C-17 aircraft flying out of Dover for humanitarian missions to Japan.
Awarding Air BP a contract to supply fuel for aircraft supporting Libya operations, if that turns out to be the case, would be ironic. Last year, BP confirmed that it told the British government in 2007 that the company's $900 million oil contract with Libya would be at risk unless a prisoner transfer agreement, which allegedly included Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence official convicted of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, between the two countries was hammered out.
Too Big to Fail