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Barack Obama 29 articles

New bill restores and expands whistleblower protections to federal workers

President Obama signed a whistleblower bill into law Tuesday that makes sweeping changes to current laws by closing loopholes and offering greater protection to federal employees who blow the whistle on fraud, waste, and abuse in government operations. Passage of the far-reaching Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act marks the final stage of a 13-year effort by whistleblower advocates who fought court rulings that weakened whistleblower protections and made reporting fraudulent activity extremely risky. Supporters of the bill said that from October 1994 to May 2012 the court consistently undermined whistleblower protections and ruled in favor of whistleblowers only three times in ... Read More

VA to improve and expand mental health and suicide prevention resources

As U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down, efforts to treat massive numbers of veterans for mental health issues is picking up. Military veterans will soon have better access to mental health services and suicide prevention efforts under a new plan aimed at expanding and improving several Veterans Administration (VA) programs. An executive order signed by President Obama Friday directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure any veterans expressing suicidal thoughts are seen by a mental health professional within 24 hours. Although that standard already exists at the VA, the agency often fails to meet the goal, ... Read More

U.S. files lawsuit against BP and partners for cleanup, recovery costs

Faced with ongoing cleanup costs and widespread ecological damage, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against BP and eight other companies involved in the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In addition to BP, other defendants named in the lawsuit are Transocean, the primary owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig; Anadarko, which owned a 25-percent interest in the well; MOEX, the U.S. unit of Japan’s Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, Ltd.; and Lloyd’s of London, BP’s insurer. One unit of Anadarko and three units/subsidiaries of Transocean are also named as defendants. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New ... Read More

BP to keep cap in place, monitor for other problems

Oil and gas continue to leak from BP’s blown-out oil well, but Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen called the leaks “inconsequential,” relieving concerns that the new “3 Ram Capping Stack” is creating too much pressure underground. The federal government has given BP another full day to leave the cap in place after receiving assurances from the oil giant that it would live up to its promises to monitor the well and sea floor for signs of worsening damage. Now that the leak has been successfully capped on the surface, government authorities and BP executives are at odds on what to ... Read More

Lower maximum speed equals more mileage, less pollution, safer roads

The formula for making deliveries as profitable as possible and adding more money to the bottom line seems easy enough: More weight + higher speed = more deliveries / month. The only problem is that there are limits on weight and speed, and exceeding those limits is both illegal and unsafe for commercial carriers. However, slowing down not only saves money, it saves lives and drastically reduces emissions.  “Fuel savings can be achieved and pollution reduced immediately if you order speed governors already installed on big trucks to be set at 65 mph,” wrote Steve Owings, President and co-founder of Roadsafe ... Read More

Senate panel abolishes $75-million oil spill liability cap

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted today to lift the $75-million liability cap that limits the financial damages drillers can incur for their offshore oil spills. The cap, enacted in 1990 after the Exxon Valdez spill polluted Alaska’s Prince William Sound, holds oil companies liable for economic damages and cleanup costs up to $75 million. Damages over that amount are to be paid for by the government using tax money. House Democrats have sought to overturn the cap retroactively after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, creating the largest oil spill and ... Read More

Currents likely to carry oil up east coast, into atlantic

Carried by water currents, BP’s giant oil slick could hit the U.S. east coast in a few weeks and spread out across thousands of miles of Atlantic ocean, according to government scientists monitoring the spill. The government’s oil spill trajectory shows the slick traveling down Florida’s Gulf coast and around the state’s southern tip, where it enters the rapid Gulf Stream. It then mucks the eastern shoreline all the way to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina before veering east into the open Atlantic. Researchers based the model on the behavior of dye, rather than oil, in the water, but believe the ... Read More

How has the federal government responded to BP's oil spill?

As frustration escalates over BP’s inability to cap and contain its massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, more and more people are directing their anger at the federal government for not doing more to curb the catastrophe and stem the economic impact the spill is having throughout the Gulf. Neither the U.S. nor BP has ever faced an environmental disaster of this magnitude, so nearly every response carries an element of the unknown with it. And along with the unknown comes an element of fear that the fix could do more damage than the oil itself. President Obama’s ... Read More

NHTSA wants more states to ban texting while driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a legal template that will help states develop legislation banning the act of texting behind the wheel. The sample law is modeled after the Executive Order issued by President Obama in October of last year that prohibited federal employees from texting while driving. The sample law represents the latest steps taken by the federal government to reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers. According to NHTSA data, in 2008 approximately 6,000 people were killed and more than 500,000 people were injured in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers. The nation’s ... Read More

Environmentalist groups want TVA to be prosecuted, fined

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) should be prosecuted and penalized for not ensuring the safety of its Kingston, Tenn., coal ash impoundment pond to prevent it from breaking and spilling a billion gallons of toxic coal ash on to a neighboring rural community, according to angry environmental groups. But a long-standing federal rule that limits how the Justice Department can prosecute federal agencies could protect the nation’s largest utility from paying its fair dues. “No corporation or agency should be above the law, especially at the expense of the environmental well-being of our citizens, wildlife and waters,” said Robert Dreher, ... Read More