Witness in Gulf oil spill trial charges BP had flawed safety record — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | University of California-Berkeley civil and petroleum engineer Robert Bea testified that BP had not implemented a new, safer operating management system at the Macondo operation. For years, if not decades, Bea has discussed the undetected (and often human) flaws in systems that multiply risk factors.
BP oil spill trial continues with testimony from company executive — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Was BP “grossly negligent” in the Macondo oil disaster? If so, their Clean Water Act fines will be multiplied five-fold, meaning billions more for Gulf Coast restoration. Nola.com has a good running collection of stories. You can also follow the play-by-play at the twitter hashtag #bptrial, and review the court transcripts here.
The Environmental Trial of the Century — Gulf Restoration Network | GRN’s Aaron Viles advocates maximum penalties for BP and says approximately $50 billion in total restitution would fulfill BP’s promise to make things right. ” … [R]estoring our environment restores our economy,” Viles contends. (While I agree in principle, I think the time value of money must be factored in. If BP gets the maximum penalty, there’s no chance we’ll see that money soon. Remember that Exxon appealed judgments for nearly two decades after the Valdez disaster in Alaska, and then the U.S. Supreme Court slashed the amount owed in damages.)
Residents angry as Assumption sinkhole continues collapsing — wwltv.com | Meanwhile, at Bayou Corne:
“The sinkhole is constantly changing. It changes every time we go out there. Not just on the surface, but in the sub-surface,” said Gary Hecox, a hydrogeologist with CB&I, formerly the Shaw Group, who is a consultant for the state about how to best handle the sinkhole. He said it’s uncharted territory. “The cavern was 3,400 feet deep, which is deeper than any known cavern failure impacting the surface in the international record,” Hecox said. Nowhere in the world has a brine cavern this large collapsed, and Hecox said the data shows it’s not finished yet. “We still have 450 feet to fill. How long is it gonna take to fill this up? At one foot per day, we’re still looking at an event that’s gonna run over a year.”
Sinkhole critics: O, Governor, where art thou? — The Advocate | Residents, activists and critics want Gov. Bobby Jindal to visit the sinkhole. So far he has avoided the site, presumably because of the bad political optics.
Government & Politics
Cozy relationship between environmentalists turns costly for public: James Varney — NOLA.com | Sen. David Vitter senses the government is colluding with green groups to get quick (and expensive) environmental judgments. Varney writes: “It is the sue-and-settle racket that simmers beneath the various e-mail scandals engulfing the EPA, Vitter believes. “
Public outrage on display Part 1: Some thoughts on the Broussard sentencing. — Slabbed | Blogger Doug Handshoe reflects in-depth on the sentencing of former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, and reviews the media coverage. Interestingly, this Advocate story notes that Judge Hayden Head advised the feds to investigate Broussard’s involvement in Canadian resort properties, which Handshoe has covered doggedly.
The Real Forces That Keep Low-Income Kids Out of College – The Atlantic | Another substantial excerpt from Sarah Carr’s new book about New Orleans’ schools.
Calvinist Controversy at Louisiana College — A First Things Blog | An emergency meeting of the college’s board of trustees evidently didn’t end in a recommendation to remove Louisiana College’s president, who is accused of firing staff over theological differences. (via Dead Pelican)
Feds launch opening salvo with charges against Orleans deputies for alleged kickback scheme — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | “With the filing Tuesday of charges against two former high-ranking Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputies, for allegedly rigging bids and taking kickbacks from contractors worth more than $67,000, federal prosecutors launched their opening salvo in a case that is expected to net several more suspects.” For more, see The Lens’ coverage.
Arlington police unveil 24-hour ‘live chat’ feature on website — Crime Blog | The same Texas police department that pioneered drone use after the city hosted a Super Bowl has implemented a “chat feature” on their website that allows residents to contact officers electronically, if they do not need a site visit. “The system will cost $120 a month to operate, compared with sending an officer to every call which can cost more than $100 per visit.” I wonder if social media connections will be the next frontier in neighborhood policing?
Redevelopment plan for former site of Holy Cross School faces neighborhood opposition — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | As previously reported in The Lens, opponents say the mixed-use high-rise development, which will require zoning changes, does not suit the community. Proponents say the neighborhood would benefit from a big, local project.
Rebuilding on Their Own – NYTimes.com | Columnist asks a survivor of Katrina for insights on how the Rockaways in New York will recover from Hurricane Sandy.
New Orleans eases rules for Lot Next Door program — The Advocate | “Under the new ordinance, a property owner who shares any common boundary with a Lot Next Door property can try to buy that land. Restrictions are on lots that touch only at the corner or are across a street or alley. About 700 lots could be sold immediately under the new ordinance.”