Obama administration files lawsuit against BP, eight other companies

A brown pelican struggles against the oil in the water on the beach at East Grand Terre Island, La., in June. The federal government is attempting to recover billions of dollars in damages.

Associated Press

A brown pelican struggles against the oil in the water on the beach at East Grand Terre Island, La., in June. The federal government is attempting to recover billions of dollars in damages.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration filed a lawsuit Wednesday against BP and eight other companies in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill earlier this year, seeking monetary penalties under the Clean Water Act and hoping to force the companies to pay for cleanup costs in the water and for the damage to natural resources.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, alleges a series of violations of federal safety and operational regulations in the April 20 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the gulf.

"We intend to prove that these defendants are responsible for government removal costs, economic losses and environmental damages without limitation," announced Attorney General Eric Holder.

According to the government's complaint, the companies "failed to take necessary precautions" to properly control the well before the explosion and "failed to use the best available and safest drill technology" to monitor the well.

The other defendants in the case are Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and Transocean's insurer, QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd's Syndicate 1036.

The companies did not have an immediate reaction to the lawsuit, though many of them have pledged in the past help bear the costs of the cleanup.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Also in Washington

Signed into law: President Barack Obama signed two bills into law Wednesday. One prevents advertisers from abruptly raising the volume of TV commercials louder than regular programming. The other delays for one year a 25 percent reduction in Medicare pay to doctors.

Caller ID scams: Congress moved Wednesday to stop scammers who use fake caller IDs to trick people into revealing Social Security and credit card numbers and other vital information. The caller ID bill addresses the issue of "spoofing," where scammers use the caller ID of, for example, a bank or a government office to deceive people into giving them private information. House lawmakers also passed a second consumer protection bill that would crack down on third-party sellers who interrupt an online transaction process and try to enroll consumers as customers or club members. The Senate previously passed both bills. The House votes send them to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Don't ask, don't tell: The House voted Wednesday to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that for 17 years has forced gays desiring to serve in the military to conceal their sexual identity. The 250-175 vote propels the issue to the Senate. Failure to overturn the policy this year could put it on the back burner next year when Republicans, who are far less supportive of allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military, take over the House and gain strength in the Senate.

Nuclear arms treaty: The Senate plunged into debate on a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty on Wednesday. Democrats prevailed, 66-32, to move forward on the pact, winning the backing of nine Republicans. Several Republicans had argued that the limited time available in the lame duck session made it difficult to properly consider the treaty.

Crackdown on supplements: The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on manufacturers of certain weight loss, body building and sexual enhancement supplements, saying they are deceptively labeling products to hide ingredients known to cause adverse health effects. Some contain ingredients that should be available only by prescription.

Child and forced labor: The Labor Department added a dozen countries to the list of nations that use child labor or forced labor. New to the list are Angola, the Central African Republic, Chad, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. India and China are Nos. 1 and 2 on the list.

Where's the love? Just 13 percent of Americans say they approve of the way Congress is doing its job while 83 percent disapprove, the worst disapproval rating for lawmakers in more than 30 years, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday. The previous record low approval rating was 14 percent in July 2008.

Christmas session spat: The GOP's second-in-command, Jon Kyl of Arizona, complained that Democrats are stacking up a nuclear arms treaty with Russia with other weighty matters, and that keeping lawmakers in session so close to Christmas is disrespectful to Christians. Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, the majority leader, retorted that he did not need any "sanctimonious lectures" about the meaning of Christmas, and that senators should be willing to work up to the holidays like millions of other Americans.

Times wires

Obama administration files lawsuit against BP, eight other companies 12/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:41pm]

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