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U.S. urged to stop 'coddling' big oil

U.S. urged to stop 'coddling' big oil
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) talks to reporters prior to casting his vote for the motion to invoke cloture on H.R 4853 (Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010), on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 13, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. federal government must stop "coddling oil companies" and force them to pay for the environmental damage they cause, a U.S. lawmaker said.

Court documents released this week indicated that top officials at BP resigned, concerned about safety issues, just months before the April disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

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A federal investigation into the spill released in January found the disaster could be traced to "identifiable mistakes" made by BP and its partners in the gulf that put the safety of the industry in doubt.

Photos: Michigan Oil Spill

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is pushing plans to remove a $75 million liability for economic damages for oil companies.

Menendez said the safety allegations against BP suggest the Deepwater Horizon accident "was not a fluke."

Photos: Timeline of Gulf oil spill

"It's time to stop coddling oil companies," he said in a statement. "It's time to hold them to the same standard (as) average citizens -- you make the mess, you clean it up."

Menendez is also leading the charge against BP's alleged ties to the Scottish decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi back to Libya in 2009. Menendez claims BP tried to protect its Libyan interests in the case, allegations the oil company denies.

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