Science and Environment

Planet Money
10:39 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Why Is The Government In The Flood Insurance Business?

Hurricane Betsy hit the Gulf Coast in 1965.
Horace Cort AP

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 12:19 pm

There's a quick, one-word explanation for why the federal government started selling flood insurance: Betsy.

Hurricane Betsy, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1965, became known as billion-dollar Betsy. Homes were ruined. Water up to the roofs. People paddling around streets in boats. Massive damage.

This would be the time when you'd expect people to be pulling out their flood insurance policies. But flood insurance was hard to come by. You could get fire insurance, theft insurance, car insurance, life insurance. Not flood.

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Animals
2:36 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Figuring How to Pay For (Chimp) Retirement

Hannah and Marty eat watermelon snacks at the Save the Chimps sanctuary.
Save the Chimps

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 9:06 pm

Retirees flock to Florida — and the Sunshine State even has a retirement home for chimpanzees.

There, chimps live in small groups on a dozen man-made islands. Each 3-acre grassy island has palm trees and climbing structures, and is surrounded by a moat.

This is Save the Chimps, the world's biggest sanctuary for chimps formerly used in research experiments or the entertainment industry, or as pets. The chimps living here — 266 of them — range in age from 6 years old to over 50. And as sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein drives around in a golf cart, she recognizes each one.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
2:34 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Experts Urge Caution As $50 Billion In Sandy Aid Passes House

Much of the money from the Hurricane Sandy relief bill the House of Representatives passed will fund beach and infrastructure restoration projects in areas such as Mantoloking, N.J., seen on Oct. 31.
Doug Mills AP

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 8:11 am

The House of Representatives passed a bill this week to spend $50 billion to help states struck by Hurricane Sandy. The action comes more than two months after the storm, and the measure now goes to the Senate.

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Environment
4:38 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Interior Secretary's Legacy Defined By Issues Of Oil

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaks at the dedication for the Southwest's first urban wildlife refuge on the southern edge of Albuquerque, N.M., on Sept. 27, 2012. Salazar has announced that he'll leave his post in late March and return to Colorado.
Susan Montoya Bryan AP

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 6:16 am

The Department of the Interior is huge — more than 70,000 employees manage a half-billion acres of public land, mostly in the West. The department does everything from operate national parks to administer Native American social programs and manage wild horses.

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Deepwater Horizon
4:17 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Transocean's Battle in Gulf Oil Spill Case Concludes

Platform supply vessels battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April, 20, 2010.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard

The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off Louisiana’s coast in 2010, unleashing an unmatched oil spill from BP’s Macondo well.

About eight months later, the Justice Department filed suit to recover damages.

BP entered into a $4.5 billion settlement of criminal claims in November.

The owner of the rig, Transocean, has just agreed to plead guilty and pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties for violating the Clean Water Act. A federal judge is likely to sign off on the agreement at a hearing set for Feb. 14.

Carrie Johnson, NPR’s Justice Correspondent, has been following this case from the beginning.

WRKF's Amy Jeffries speaks with NPR's Carrie Johnson about the Transocean settlement.

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Gulf Coast
1:36 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Scientists Seek To Develop Less Toxic Dispersant

Scientists at LSU, Columbia and Iowa State University have teamed up to develop a more environmentally-friendly oil dispersant.

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Environment
3:07 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

EPA Notes Safety, Maintenance Issues at Exxon Refinery

ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery.
Credit Frank McMains

EPA inspectors made a surprise visit in July to ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery.


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Deepwater Horizon
1:32 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Coast Guard To Invesigate Oil Sheen Near BP Spill Site

The Coast Guard has approved plans to investigate another oil sheen spotted near the site of BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The sheen was initially spotted on Nov. 2 in the same area where a discarded steel container leaking oil had been capped and plugged the week before.

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Gulf Coast
11:02 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Water Institute Hires Esteemed Researcher

The Water Institute of the Gulf has hired a renowned Mississippi River expert to join their staff to help advance the group’s Gulf Coast restoration and protection efforts.

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Smart Growth
9:33 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Raleigh Planning Chief to Baton Rouge: 'You're Not Keeping Your Young People'

Mitchell J. Silver opened the Louisiana Smart Growth Summit last night with constructive criticism of the capital city and its leaders. Silver serves in the Department of City Planning in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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