04/20/2011 11:57 am ET Updated Jun 20, 2011

Rats On A Plane: Delta Warned About Rodents

Welcome to "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receive very little coverage. To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips, send them to marcus@huffingtonpost.com.

04/20/2011 11:30 AM EDT

Yikes On A Plane: FDA Warns Delta About Rodents

The next time you get on a plane, check under your seat for rodents.

Investigators for the Food and Drug Administration discovered rodent feces near the food-preparation area of a Delta jet parked at the airline's Atlanta headquarters during a routine inspection in early February. Though Delta officials fixed the problem, they did not give the agency an action plan for how the airline plans to prevent future infestations, prompting another tough letter from the FDA last week.

In addition to health hazards, the infestation could also endanger passengers since rats "are known to chew on wiring," Chad Artimovich, president of Atlanta Wildlife Solutions, LLC, told Bloomberg.

This is what the FDA wrote:

However, our investigator observed the following evidence of rodent activity on your aircraft:

• Approximately 8-11 rodent excreta pellets above the right door panel in the forward galley (G1) where food is prepared by flight personnel;

• Approximately 10-20 rodent excreta pellets above the left door panel in the forward galley (G1) where food is prepared by flight personnel;

• Approximately 9-15 rodent excreta pellets on the right aisle of the aircraft over seats C3-C7;

• Rodent excreta pellets (too numerous to count) in three areas in ceiling panels located in the middle cross over galley G2, which is directly over places where food and drinks are stored in the aircraft; and

• Mammalian urine in six areas on ceiling panels located in the middle cross over galley G2.

Our laboratory analysis of samples collected during the inspection confirmed the presence of rodent excreta pellets and rodent urine stains in the aircraft.

04/20/2011 10:52 AM EDT

The Wake-Up Call: BP Anniversary Edition

• More than 3,200 oil and gas wells classified as active lie abandoned beneath the Gulf of Mexico, with no cement plugging to help prevent leaks that could threaten the same waters fouled by last year’s BP spill, the Associated Press has learned.

• The Interior Department's "overly simplistic economic analysis" when deciding when to sell offshore drilling leases may have helped lead to the Deepwater Horizon accident, concludes a new report by NYU's Institute for Policy Integrity. "America likely drills for oil too much too soon, taking on too much risk, and potentially misses out on higher pay-offs for taxpayers."

• Offshore drilling regulatory chief Michael Bromwich laid out his laundry list of needs during a talk yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In addition to lengthening the current 30-day deadline for acting on industry offshore-exploration plans and authorizing the Ocean Energy Safety Institute that Interior hopes to create, he called for an increase in civil penalties for violations, saying the current maximum of $35,000 per day is "laughable."

• If the Oil Spill Liability Fund's expenditures exceed the $1-billion cap, federal agencies may be on the hook to cover costs they incur for clean-up operations in the Gulf, according to a GAO audit. "In addition, agencies may be unable to cover some of their costs and NPFC would be unable to pay any additional claims to individuals and businesses related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill."