Does Flood Insurance Just Make Things Worse?
August 27, 2010
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana on August 29, 2005, it caused extreme flooding up and down the Gulf coastline. Four years later, the Gulf has made a dramatic recovery—thanks in part to the billions of dollars in aid sent via the national flood insurance program. The hurricane certainly underscored the need for federal aid in the event of a natural disaster. But was the federal flood insurance program the best way to get aid to those in need? Some background: The National Flood Insurance Program, run by FEMA, provides insurance to homes that lie in floodplains.
The Movie Review: ‘If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise’
August 23, 2010
Spike Lee's wonderful 2006 documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, wasn’t just about Hurricane Katrina. Rather, it explored the social inequities that the hurricane laid bare, and the incompetence, confusion, greed, and stupidity that made a terrible situation worse. His latest effort, If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise, which premieres on August 23and 24, casts a cold eye on the opportunism that followed in the wake of Katrina, finishing with a devastating hour about the BP oil spill and the political and economic forces that allowed it to happen.
Surviving the Next Katrina
August 19, 2010
Note: This is part of a week-long series on New Orleans, five years after Katrina, based in part on my recent rip there. Everybody wants to know whether New Orleans can survive the next big hurricane. Few of them realize that it should have survived the last one. Katrina was not a category five storm and it didn’t even hit New Orleans directly. At the last minute, it veered northeast, making its final landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Katrina was massive enough to inflict damage far away from the eye, so it was bound to take its toll on New Orleans, too.
Another Tanker Disaster
August 12, 2010
Via Jon Hiskes, The Onion has the story: In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation's history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port Monday and successfully unloaded 3.1 million barrels of dangerous crude oil into the United States. According to witnesses, the catastrophe began shortly after the tanker, which sailed unimpeded across the Gulf of Mexico, stopped safely at the harbor and made contact with oil company workers on the shore.
Heritage Foundation's One Man, All-Oil Executive Focus Group Agrees With Heritage Stance
August 04, 2010
Congress is fighting over whether to lift the cap on oil liability, making oil companies completely responsible for damages caused by their spill, or whether to continue having the government subsidize oil companies by covering damages above $75 million. The Heritage Foundation thinks the free market is too unfair to oil companies, and thinks the people are with them: Last night after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled his oil spill response bill, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) told reporters: “The key question is, whose side are you on?
The WSJ Edit Page Discovers Market Failure
August 02, 2010
The Wall Street Journal's climate editorial this morning is a perfect display of pro-business ideology untethered to even the pretense of support for the free market. According to the Journal, it's not fair to lift the liability cap for oil spills: As for the Senate, Mr. Reid's new nonclimate energy bill is all about trying to link Republicans to Big Oil. With BP as the corporate villain, Democrats are proposing to lift the $75 million oil spill liability cap for economic damages to infinity. And to do so retroactively on all rig leases. This is a bad-faith exercise. Mr.
Citizens of the Week, Gulf Coast Edition
July 16, 2010
Good Citizen of the Week: Dave Rauschkolb A little over two weeks ago, on the very first post for this blog, I wrote about the discouraging politics of climate. The largest environmental disaster in the nation's history was unfolding, but a serious and focused grassroots push for legislation hadn't materialized. To back up my argument, I said, among other things, that a protest called "Hands Across the Sand"--in which environment al activists literally held hands on beachfronts, to protest offshore drilling--had attracted only a few thousand people across the country.
BP Stops Leak, But The Gulf Crisis Isn't Over
July 15, 2010
This is welcome news if it holds up: "BP says oil has stopped leaking into the Gulf for the first time since April. BP has been slowly dialing down the flow as part of a test on a new cap. Engineers are now monitoring the pressure to see if the busted well holds." Here's hoping it does. Still, the Macondo site won't be fully and permanently plugged until BP finishes drilling a relief well.
Is The Drilling Moratorium A Bad Idea?
July 14, 2010
The logic behind a moratorium on deepwater drilling seems sound enough. Until we have a better idea of exactly why Deepwater Horizon blew up and gushed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf—and what other risks are still lurking out there—it's probably not a good idea to go ahead with a whole bunch of new insanely complex projects. Right? At least, that's what the Obama administration is thinking. Last month, it proposed a six-month halt on drilling that would affect 33 rigs under construction.
Why Brandeis Matters
June 29, 2010
Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.