"BP wants the federal government to meet its demand for continued access to oil and gas leases in the United States. If the oil giant can't keep drilling here, its promise to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster might go unfulfilled—or so the company claims.
BP's fear-mongering is directed at the House-passed spill bill (officially known as the CLEAR Act), which would bar companies who repeatedly violate safety and environmental regulations from obtaining new leases to drill in US waters. If the CLEAR Act becomes law, BP is unlikely to get any new leases in the near future.
But the idea that BP has to keep drilling in the Gulf in order to compensate victims is simply not true. According to its last quarterly report, BP's assets and investments are valued at approximately $248.6 billion. The company has plenty of money. Unfortunately, the US government set up the oil spill compensation fund with BP's Gulf subsidiary, which in practice makes the $20 billion fund reliant on keeping those operations profitable. BP is now using this to strong-arm the government—but only because the administration let it."
Kate Sheppard reports for Mother Jones September 7, 2010.
"Is BP Blackmailing the Feds?" (Mother Jones)
"BP Threatens to Cut Aid to Spill Victims if Not Allowed to Drill" (Newsweek)
"BP Says Limits on Drilling Imperil Spill Payouts" (New York Times)