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

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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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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