"A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems." Key equipment, such as the failed blowout preventer, had not been inspected in nearly a decade.
Laws & Regulations
"None of the five witnesses called to testify will appear at Wednesday’s hearing of the U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department probe into what caused the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to explode."
"There's 'no chance' that President Obama will rework the executive policies carried over from his predecessor that tell agencies how to write regulations and outline a White House oversight role, academics and activists say."
"Companies with a financial interest in a weed-killer sometimes found in drinking water paid for thousands of studies federal regulators are using to assess the herbicide’s health risks, records of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show. Many of these industry-funded studies, which largely support atrazine’s safety, have never been published or subjected to an independent scientific peer review."
"The Interior Department, preoccupied with its response to the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, said Wednesday that it was pushing back the date of public hearings on the administration’s plan, announced before the disaster began, to expand offshore drilling."
"A U.S. appeals court rejected on Tuesday a legal challenge by General Electric Co to the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) orders that direct companies to clean up hazardous waste."
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday officially overturned a 16-year-old Texas air permitting program it says violates the Clean Air Act, leaving some of the country's largest refineries in a state of limbo."
Petrochemical companies like BP won a key battle in achieving unpoliced self-regulation early in the Bush administration -- when they got friends in Congress and the White House to shut EPA out of chemical safety and security oversight. As public health advocates point to possible disasters more lethal than the Gulf spill, there may be an opportunity to reverse the federal government's decisions not to protect the public from petrochemical disasters.
"The disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the administration had ignored them. Instead of cracking down on MMS, as he had vowed to do even before taking office, Obama left in place many of the top officials who oversaw the agency's culture of corruption."