Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool Me Twice…
Before the Deepwater Horizon blowout, BP was involved in another oil spill in Alaska. In 2006, a leak in a corroded transit line from Prudhoe Bay on the state’s North Slope spilled more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil. According to a Justice Department consent decree released last week, BP’s Alaskan subsidiary will pay a $25 million civil penalty resulting from violations of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Federal Pipeline Safety Laws. The company will also institute a $60 million pipeline integrity program, including risk assessment, data collection and mandatory inspections.
The economic recovery act that was passed in 2009 provided $6 billion for water infrastructure projects. Distributed through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, the money has been awarded and the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s watchdog, is checking to see where it went. Nationally some 3,000 projects benefited from the funds, most of which were spent on waste water treatment, sanitary sewer overflows, and the water distribution system, according to a recent GAO report. However, the act’s provisions—including the requirement that projects be under contract within a year of the act’s passage—affected what was selected for construction. Some lower-priority projects leapfrogged others in line because they happened to be “shovel-ready.”
Watching Old Man River
As the muddy Mississippi flood crest pushes southward, the U.S. Geological Survey is monitoring the surge. Data from the agency’s network of stream gauges can be found on its spring flooding website, along with other information related to this year’s historic flood season.
Can We Call Them The ‘Frack Squad’?
As directed by President Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced a hydraulic fracturing advisory panel. The panel—which includes scientists, energy analysts and former public sector officials—will submit recommendations for improving the safety of the controversial natural gas drilling technique.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton