Enviro Links: EPA Admin on NOLA, Another BP Exec Pleads the Fifth, and More


Today in environmental news:

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson reflects on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the rebirth of her hometown of Pontchartrain Park:

The homeowners and families in Pontchartrain Park were among the first African-Americans to buy their own homes in the New Orleans suburbs. Despite the racial inequality of the time, they shared a belief that the nation’s opportunity should be equal for everyone.

In 2010, Pontchartrain Park is being reborn, re-emerging after the destructive power of Katrina and the failure of the New Orleans levee system left the neighborhood devastated. Today’s vision is no less bold than it was in the 1950s.

Pontchartrain Park is re-emerging as model of new urbanism, a place where livability, environmental responsibility and economic opportunity come together. My dad, my aunt and uncle, my cousins and the many other Pontchartrain Park pioneers who are no longer with us would be proud.

Renewable energy advocates are making a big push to get the Senate to pass a renewable electricity standard this year.

And in oil-spill news:

BP conducted an internal audit of the Deepwater Horizon rig in September 2009 that found 390 overdue maintenance problems. The audit also found that Transocean, the owner of the rig, structured bonuses for some staff around how much time the rig was in operation—rather than, you know, pausing operations to fix problems.

During a panel probe into the Gulf disaster yesterday, a top official from Transocean couldn’t tell investigators who was in charge on the rig the day it exploded.

Meanwhile, another BP executive is expected to plead the Fifth today rather than testify before a panel of investigators probing the spill.

State officials in the Gulf are criticizing BP spill fund czar Kenneth Feinberg over the terms of the $20 billion compensation plan. Critics say the terms are too restrictive, and have accused the Obama-appointed administrator of the fund of being too cozy with BP. Feinberg officially took over administration of the fund yesterday.

Michael Bromwich, the top federal regulator of offshore drilling, indicated yesterday that the moratorium on new drilling is expected to continue for several more months.

Louisiana state biologists are investigating whether the 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish that turned up dead near the mouth of the Mississippi River are the result of all the oil and dispersants in the Gulf. The fish kill included crabs, sting rays, eel, drum, speckled trout, and red fish.

I would venture that this is more than a little extreme, but Brad Pitt thinks the death penalty should be on the table for those responsible for the Gulf disaster. “I was never for the death penalty before,” Pitt says in Spike Lee’s new documentary on New Orleans. “I am willing to look at it again.”

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.