BP to explore new horizons

Oil giant approved to seek new leases in the Gulf of Mexico

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved oil giant BP’s return to the Gulf of Mexico.

The EPA and BP reached an agreement on March 20, effectively lifting the ban imposed in 2012 when federal regulators determined BP had not taken corrective measures in the aftermath of the explosion (pictured), which killed 11 rig workers and contaminated hundreds of miles of beaches along the Gulf Coast, according to The New York Times.

Under the agreement, BP can bid for new leases so long as the company meets requirements for ethics, corporate governance and safety procedures outlined by the EPA. An independent auditor will conduct an annual review and report on BP’s compliance with the new standards.

The consumer activist group Public Citizen said in a statement that the EPA is letting a “corporate felon and repeat offender off the hook for its crimes against people and the environment.”