Oil firm BP has filed suit against the US government for banning it from federal contracts after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, documents showed Tuesday.
In a suit filed in federal court in Texas, BP said the ban last year by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which locked it out of new business with the government, surpassed the agency's authority and constituted an abuse of power.
It said the EPA issued disqualifications of BP units in November 2012 and January and February this year while the two sides were negotiating a settlement that would allow BP to continue receiving US government contracts and oil exploration leases.
But after the disaster and prior to the EPA decisions, BP said, the government had in fact allowed it to continue receiving such contracts, assessing it officially as a responsible government contractor.
"EPA's decision to suspend did not address the overwhelming evidence and record of BP's present responsibility as a government contractor and leaseholder," the suit said.
It "did not attempt to explain how or why immediate suspension was necessary to protect the public interest, as federal law requires."
BP argued that the company had already been punished for the oil spill and that it faces "irreparable harm" if the bans are not lifted.
It labelled the EPA's action "punitive, arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of EPA's discretion."
Eleven people died and 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf over a three-month period in the April 2010 accident off the coast of Louisiana, wreaking havoc on the region's environment and economy.