Danger Room: To Reach Afghans, Pentagon Drafts Mimes, Storytellers, Wizard of Oz

The Pentagon’s ultimate team of technologists is looking to breach the cultural divide in Afghanistan — with storytelling, pantomime, and the Wizard of Oz.

Continue reading Danger Room: To Reach Afghans, Pentagon Drafts Mimes, Storytellers, Wizard of Oz

WaPo: BP, Transocean tap a well of Washington lobbyists and consultants

Companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are hiring a bevy of high-priced Washington lobbyists and consultants to help them weather the crisis, as investigations heat up and calls for policy changes intensify.

Lobbyists and lawyers representing the major companies, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they are focused on providing lawmakers and their staffs with information about the disaster rather than working against legislation or regulations opposed by their clients.

But Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a watchdog group, said BP lobbyists and others “are clearly bracing and preparing for policy impacts from this.”

He also said it was no surprise that the companies would turn to well-connected Washington insiders for damage control. “They’re well aware that the most influential lobbyists are those who have Rolodexes of people inside Congress and inside government,” Holman said. “These are people who know who’s making decisions and how to appeal to their interests. That’s the reason they exist.”

READ THIS STORY AT WASHINGTONPOST.COM

Continue reading WaPo: BP, Transocean tap a well of Washington lobbyists and consultants

WSJ: Oil drilling should be resuming soon

The Obama administration announced yesterday that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service will be releasing new safety rules as early as Tuesday.

Since May, shallow water oil and gas drilling has been placed on hold pending the new regulations. There has been rising public outcry that delays in releasing the rules are impacting thousands of jobs.

The six-month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling that was placed following the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion will remain.

READ THIS STORY AT WSJ.COM

Continue reading WSJ: Oil drilling should be resuming soon

DCBureau.org releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Joseph Trento, 202-466-4310 or (mobile) 202-255-2441

Janet Wilson, 714-649-0514

DCBureau.org releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant

Washington, DC, May 11, 2010 – From the beginning, developers of a huge desalination plant in Carlsbad, Calif., have promised it would cost the public nothing to build and would provide a critical new drinking water supply.

But dozens of interviews and a review of available records by the Public Education Center’s DCBureau.org show that southern Californians would actually pay at least $640 million over 30 years, including as much as $374 million in public subsidies. All that money would repay construction costs with interest, operating costs with overhead fees, and unspecified profits to investors for what would be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

So is the project a thirst quencher, an environmental problem, or both?

As population swells and climate change could begin to wreak havoc on already dwindling supplies, boosters say it is well worth the price to bring a local water supply to the drought prone region. They say desalination is a crucial piece of multi-pronged strategies to keep California flush with water, and despite recessionary woes, the time is right

But critics say that far from being a New Age answer to water woes, desalters are costly, unnecessary boondoggles that often malfunction and carry damaging environmental side effects. They argue subsidizing the costly plants is the wrong approach, and that conservation, recycling wastewater and other, far cheaper alternatives should be tried first.

Poseidon Resources LLC, the private developer, is pushing to complete a dizzying checklist of approvals before heading to Wall Street for financing later this month. Before the bond sale, it needs to obtain a second rating in addition to the BBB- it got from Standard and Poor’s, the lowest investment grade rating.

# # #

DCBureau.org is a non-profit project staffed by award-winning reporters whose mission is to investigate previously overlooked news stories about significant issues and bring them to the attention of national and international audiences. Janet Wilson, a USC Annenberg Hunt national health reporting fellow, is an environmental journalist based in southern California.

Continue reading DCBureau.org releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant