Everything We Know About What’s Happened Under Sequestration

Everything We Know About What’s Happened Under Sequestration

While the White House Easter Egg Hunt was saved from sequestration, other programs haven’t been so lucky. Here’s our guide to what’s happened since the across-the-board budget cuts took effect. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

by Theodoric Meyer
ProPublica, May 7, 2013, 8:45 a.m.

We’ve updated our sequestration explainer to reflect new developments. It was originally published on April 11, 2013.

When the annual White House Easter Egg Hunt faced cancellation this year due to the package of mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, the National Park Service kicked into high gear. It rescued the event — held since 1878 — with money from “corporate sponsors and the sale of commemorative wooden eggs,” according to the Washington Post.

The nation’s airline passengers also caught a break last month when Congress passed (and President Obama quickly signed) a bill allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to shift some funds and halt the furloughs of air traffic controllers that had been blamed for long flight delays around the country.

But other programs haven’t been so lucky. Children in Indiana have been cut from the federally funded Head Start preschool program, and one Head Start program in Maine is being cut altogether. Furloughs have begun for employees of agencies from the U.S. Park Police to the Environmental Protection Agency. And cuts to Medicare have forced cancer clinics to turn away thousands of patients who are being treated with drugs the clinics can no longer afford. Continue reading “Everything We Know About What’s Happened Under Sequestration”

The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

The remains of a tanker truck after an explosion ripped through an injection well site in a pasture outside of Rosharon, Texas, on Jan. 13, 2003, killing three workers. The fire occurred as two tanker trucks, including the one above, were unloading thousands of gallons of drilling wastewater. (Photo courtesy of the Chemical Safety Board)

 

by Abrahm Lustgarten
ProPublica, Sept. 20, 2012, 12:12 p.m.

On a cold, overcast afternoon in January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth.

 

The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. But as the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons.

The truck engines, left to idle by their drivers, sucked the fumes from the air, revving into a high-pitched whine. Before anyone could react, one of the trucks backfired, releasing a spark that ignited the invisible cloud. Continue reading “The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth”