BP oil spill trial begins Monday in New Orleans almost three years after one of the worst spills in U.S. history — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Opening statements have begun in the civil trial that will decide billions of dollars in funding to restore a shrinking Gulf Coast that was oiled from the runaway Macondo well. The Times-Picayune story is a good refresher on the parties and huge stakes of the case.
In short, the $12 billion word is “gross,” as in gross negligence. A judgment of gross negligence could multiply Clean Water Act penalties five-fold upon for the defendants, which would mean billions more for coastal restoration. BP denies gross negligence and has attempted to deflect blame to its co-defendants. All told, BP faces about $21 billion in fines. For context, back in 2011 I noted the prevailing pessimism about the prospect of BP having to pay civil penalties over $10 billion.
Trial Set To Start On BP’s Responsibility For Gulf Oil Spill — WWNO | Just before the trial commenced, rumors emerged of a potential $16 billion deal between the government and the defendants. The WWNO piece includes a fine compilation of links, including an NPR interview and a New York Times article on the potential deal.
BP Witness Testimony May Save Halliburton Billions — Bloomberg | Bloomberg explains how previous testimony by one of BP’s witnesses might help Halliburton escape civil damages.
The Wisner Trust – Battle for the Bayou – A Battered Beach — American Zombie | The blog post includes recent video of the coast.
Contrary to popular belief, oil from the BP Macondo spill is still bombarding the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana through Alabama and even into the panhandle of Florida. Port Fourchon and the Wisner property is on the frontline of this assault.
Fuel Fix — Real-life case shows how to avoid a Gulf disaster | Columnist Loren Steffy applauds Houston-based Apache Corp., which properly and safely handled a potentially dangerous situation reminiscent of the prelude to the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
In this case, though, Apache detected the flow, activated the blowout preventer and evacuated workers from the rig. It reported the incident to federal regulators and brought in Boots & Coots, the well control company, to kill the well. No lives were lost, no injuries were sustained, no environmental damage was detected.
Former Sheriff’s Office purchasing chief, friend of Gusman, resigns from jail — The Lens | The resignation occurs as federal investigators are looking in to questionable contracting practices at the Orleans Parish jail.
Violent jail, violent city — Gambit | Clancy Dubos wonders how Sheriff Marlin Gusman can blame the jail’s “horrific conditions” on a lack of funding.
That argument is laughable in light of the fact that Gusman maintains ancillary operations that include motorcycle, mounted, K-9, search and rescue, and security/patrol units. He spends more on fuel than the Fire Department, EMS, the district attorney’s office and the coroner’s office combined. He’s also in the process of building an $81.5 million kitchen and office facility that can serve more than 25,000 meals a day — enough for more than 8,300 prisoners, or nearly four times the jail’s current population. Given those expenditures, it seems clear that OPP’s biggest problem is one of management, not funding.
Criminologist says police shooting could have strong impact on law enforcement – WDSU | A criminologist says NOPD officers “are no doubt upset and enraged as they deal with the tragedy of a fellow officer being shot amid the ongoing search for the man who’s responsible,” and advises them to proceed with caution.
Mayor Landrieu to federal judge: NOPD consent decree ‘not necessary’ — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The city continues to argue it doesn’t need an expensive consent decree in order to reform the police department.
Leaders gird for freezes on public school aid — The Advocate | “School superintendents said Friday they are bracing for the fifth year in a row of freezes in state aid for public schools.”
Public Education Needs Xavier Prep — Andre Perry | Perry argues that the community needs Xavier Preparatory School, which recently announced plans to close at the end of the year.
DOE emails reveal secretive programs, ties to Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Fox News Network; agency in general disarray — Louisiana Voice | Blogger Tom Aswell says Louisiana Department of Education emails “unveil a cozy relationship between DOE, Rupert Murdoch and his company, News Corp., which apparently will be provided personal information on Louisiana public school students for use by a company affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Government & Politics
White House: Teachers, airports, military would feel cuts in Louisiana — The Advocate
Louisiana stands to lose hundreds of teaching jobs, while thousands of Defense Department employees in the state are furloughed, and oil-and-gas permitting in the Gulf of Mexico is delayed, according to a White House report released Sunday evening.
Additionally, the sequestration measures may close five airport towers, including two in Lake Charles and the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), called the announcement a political scare tactic by President Barack Obama’s administration. “I believe the sequestration is going to take place, and my position at this point is we should let it take place,” Alexander said.
Bobby Jindal on Meet the Press — Gambit | Gambit embeds a video clip of the governor’s appearance on the Sunday morning news show, which included his admonition to President Obama to stop campaigning. (Chutzpah?) Jindal evaded questions about his plans for national office.
New Bikes Lanes Coming to Mid City — NOLA DEFENDER