3 years later, oil leak effects still unfolding — The Advocate | Unusual dolphin deaths and other anomalies spark renewed concerns about the oil spill’s long-term impact on Louisiana ecosystems and the gulf. Here is a direct link to the National Wildlife Federation report that is discussed in the story.
Lawmaker seeks to dedicate BP Clean Water Act fines for coastal restoration — Louisiana Record | “A pre-filed bill in the House of Representatives by Rep. Simone Champagne (R–Jeanerette) would allow voters to decide on a constitutional amendment that would dedicate Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 BP oil spill to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund. If HB118 were to pass and later receive a majority vote by voters it would prevent any funds coming from Clean Water Act violations in the 2010 BP oil spill from being used for anything but coastal protection and restoration projects, such as funding levee districts and marsh creation.” Environmental groups and coastal advocates have worried about BP fine money being rerouted to non-coastal projects.
Bill would set fee for oil field wastewater disposal — Fuel Fix
As the summer of 2013 threatens to bring an intensifying drought, Texas legislators are looking for ways to conserve water. One such proposal, HB 379, set to be debated in the House Energy Resources Committee on Wednesday, would impose a 1-cent-per-barrel fee on oil and gas wastewater disposed of in wells. Injection of wastewater underground is drawing scrutiny as lawmakers consider water recycling and other options that could reduce the amount of fresh water used in hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, and other oil and gas extraction processes.
(On a side note, I recently learned guar gum is used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and prices for guar gum have skyrocketed since 2010, adding to drilling costs.)
Continuing live blog: Consent decree hearing regarding Orleans Parish jail — The Lens “A fairness hearing about a proposed Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office consent decree continues Wednesday morning in federal court. It’s the third of what’s expected to be three or four days; scroll to the bottom of this post for each day’s live blog.” See Lens news editor Jed Horne’s commentary on jail conditions in this video segment on Fox 8.
4 firms vying for NOPD consent decree monitor job make their pitch — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The article has details on the applicants. A committee will decide by month’s end who gets the job.
Government & Politics
Jindal approval rating sinks to new low, further jeopardizing his tax plan — The Lens | Stiff opposition, but the political equation is interesting. If Jindal is set on higher office, and if he feels he needs this plan passed, then he’ll pull out the stops, yes?
Jindal’s most immediate task is resurrecting his tax swap, which would abolish $3.6 billion in income and corporate taxes and replace them with higher sales taxes and a tripling of the cigarette tax. In Lake Charles on Monday, he repeated his belief that the plan would create jobs and promote investment. Only 27 percent of voters polled by Southern Media agreed with that prognosis, while 63 percent opposed the plan.
Alternatives to Jindal’s tax reform begin surfacing — The Louisiana Weekly | Is the governor’s tax swap plan dead? Not according to Christopher Tidmore’s in-depth story. Key quote: “Make no mistake. Jindal will end income taxes. He and his staff on the 4th Floor are resolute on that point, whatever the political cost. All that remains is the how.”
Kenner Mayor Trying To Bypass The Public On Bond Refinancing and Added Debt — ClickJefferson.com | A review of the latest development in what blogger Walt Bennetti sees as a consistent lack of transparency and disregard for “any real” public input in Jefferson Parish.
Construction of riverfront ‘Crescent Park’ almost complete — WWLTV.com | “Folks across the Bywater area say they’re happy to call the neighborhood home, but something has been missing. ‘The only thing I don’t like is I cannot walk to the river,’ said a neighbor named David. ‘And from day one, it’s irritated me that I live two blocks from the river and I cannot walk to the river.’ “
Dueling bills could determine future of New Orleans Adolescent Hospital — The Advocate | “Bills prefiled for the upcoming legislative session could either allow Children’s Hospital to lease the closed New Orleans Adolescent Hospital without restoring mental-health services or force Children’s out of an existing lease if it does not, clearing the way for an operator that would bring back those services.” State Reps. Neil Abramson and Helena Moreno, whose districts both represent Uptown, are at odds over the future of the Hospital.
St. Tammany Zoning Commission questions its own vote on ‘assisted living’ definition — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Strange circumstance on the North Shore as commission members question the accuracy of meeting minutes regarding previous decisions made on the definition of assisted-living facilities.
Fruit, Not Fries: Lunchroom Makeovers Nudge Kids Toward Better Choices — WWNO | “A minor lunchroom makeover could make a big difference, says Andrew Hanks, a behavioral economist at Cornell University. In a study published online by The Journal of Pediatrics, Hanks and his colleagues … demonstrate that small, simple changes in presentation and layout can have a large impact on how — and what — students eat.”
Don’t forget education reform — Gambit
The governor needs to get education reform back on track. Lower courts have tossed new laws he backed last year to tighten teacher evaluation and tenure rules, give local school superintendents more autonomy and expand funding for his fledgling (and controversial) statewide voucher program. Lower courts declared all three initiatives unconstitutional on technical grounds. All are now pending before the Louisiana Supreme Court, where their fate is uncertain. The governor and lawmakers should revisit those issues this year and fix the technical glitches. On the matter of vouchers, they also should tighten the accountability provisions.
Armed Guards in Schools: A Civil Rights Violation – The Atlantic Cities | “The Meridian [Miss.] school district recently agreed to a consent decree that would, among other things, prohibit ‘school officials from using law enforcement to deal with behavior that can be safely and appropriately handled under school disciplinary procedures.’ “