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Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are considering whether to bar BP from receiving government contracts, a move that would ultimately cost the company billions in revenue and could end its drilling in federally controlled oil fields. Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways. That strategy may no longer work.
A whistleblower filed suit Monday to force the federal government to halt operations at another massive BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging that BP never reviewed critical engineering designs for the operation and is therefore risking another catastrophic accident that could “dwarf” the company’s Deepwater Horizon spill. Former project control supervisor Kenneth Abbott alleged that BP never confirmed systems and equipment on the Atlantis platform were built as intended and didn’t properly file the documentation that functions as an instruction manual for rig workers in the case of a blowout or other emergency.
When regulators at the Minerals Management Service had concerns about the safety equipment for offshore oil rigs, the agency did not impose stronger regulations and instead allowed industry to police itself, according to two pieces in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal today. The agency has been scrutinized for its role in the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly for failing to follow up on concerns it had — several years before the BP incident — about equipment that should have stopped the spill but did not.
Millions of people face losing their homes in the continuing foreclosure crisis, but homeowners often have more than the struggling economy and slumping house prices to worry about: Disorganization within the big banks that service mortgages has made a bad problem worse. Sometimes the communication breakdown within the banks is so complete that it leads to premature or mistaken foreclosures.
The fines that oil companies have paid for offshore drilling safety violations are dwarfed by their profits. Fines against BP have been the equivalent of a rounding error. From 1998 through 2007, BP paid less than $580,000 in penalties for its 12 safety violations. Last quarter, the British oil giant turned a profit of $5.6 billion.
The chemicals BP is using to break up the steady flow of leaking oil fin the Gulf of Mexico could create a new set of environmental problems. BP has deployed an estimate 100,000 gallons to dissolve the crude oil, both on the surface and deep below. Dispersal is considered one of the best ways to protect birds and keep the slick from making landfall. But the chemicals contain harmful toxins of their own and can concentrate leftover oil toxins in the water, where they can kill fish and migrate great distances.
The Wall Street Journal tracked down homeowners whose home mortgages were part of the CDO (collateralized debt obligation) that forms the basis of the SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Bruce Springsteen belted out his working-class anthems on the floor of the Verizon Center last May, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, was raising money in the privacy of a luxury suite overlooking the stage. Ten other members of Congress were also asking for cash that night. At least 19 congressional fundraisers were held at Springsteen’s two Washington concerts last year, almost half of them in boxes rented from companies or organizations with business before the committees of the lawmakers who used them.
When Sen. David Vitter persuaded the EPA to agree to yet another review of its long-delayed assessment of the health risks of formaldehyde, he was praised by companies that use or manufacture a chemical found in everything from plywood to carpet. As long as the studies continue, the EPA will still list formaldehyde as a “probable” rather than a “known” carcinogen, even though three major scientific reviews now link it to leukemia and have strengthened its ties to other forms of cancer.
Backers of financial regulatory reform are gearing up for the final stretch in a yearlong effort to construct a new, streamlined architecture. But recent reports and testimony about the financial crisis suggest a crucial ingredient in any new structure is in short supply: cooperation among the watchdogs.
By MARIAN WANG/ProPublica It’s a subject that has gotten limited play in the American press, but has held the attention of the international press for weeks, even months: In Germany, news of sexual abuse and negligent oversight in the very archdiocese once headed by Pope Benedict XVI has been a developing story, while in Ireland, [...]
By MARIAN WANG/ProPublica Tickle fights vs. groping. Salty language vs. sexual harassment. For those who’ve been following the media circus around ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), there’s been quite a lot to follow. Nonetheless, on Wednesday the House ethics committee closed its investigation into Massa, claiming his resignation rendered any findings “irrelevant” and put him “outside [...]
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Some criminals have their photos and crimes plastered all over the Internet, so people know who they are and what they did. Not politicians -- until now. The Crooked Politician Registry is an archive of info on public servants who crossed the line.
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Most public corruption cases in Georgia are prosecuted in federal court. The U.S. attorney for North Georgia, including metro Atlanta, has an excellent Web site with archived news releases on prominent cases.
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With the right keywords, online search engines will also turn up news releases or court rulings on a particular case at no cost.